19F MRI detection of acute allograft rejection with in vivo perfluorocarbon labeling of immune cells.
Current diagnosis of organ rejection following transplantation relies on tissue biopsy, which is not ideal due to sampling limitations and risks associated with the invasive procedure.We have previously shown that cellular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of iron-oxide labeled immune-cell infiltration can provide a noninvasive measure of rejection status by detecting areas of hypointensity on T 2*-weighted images. In this study, we tested the feasibility of using a fluorine-based cellular tracer agent to detect macrophage accumulation in rodent models of acute allograft rejection by fluorine-19 ((19) F) MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This study used two rat models of acute rejection, including abdominal heterotopic cardiac transplant and orthotopic kidney transplant models. Following in vivo labeling of monocytes and macrophages with a commercially available agent containing perfluoro-15-crown-5-ether, we observed (19) F-signal intensity in the organs experiencing rejection by (19) F MRI, and conventional (1) H MRI was used for anatomical context. Immunofluorescence and histology confirmed macrophage labeling. These results are consistent with our previous studies and show the complementary nature of the two cellular imaging techniques. With no background signal, (19) F MRI/magnetic resonance spectroscopy can provide unambiguous detection of fluorine labeled cells, and may be a useful technique for detecting and quantifying rejection grade in patients.