Cell labeling for 19F MRI: New and improved approach to perfluorocarbon nanoemulsion design

Sravan K. Patel, Duquesne University
Jonathan Williams, Duquesne University
Jelena M. Janjic, Duquesne University


This report describes novel perfluorocarbon (PFC) nanoemulsions designed to improve ex vivo cell labeling for 19F magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 19F MRI is a powerful non-invasive technique for monitoring cells of the immune system in vivo, where cells are labeled ex vivo with PFC nanoemulsions in cell culture. The quality of 19F MRI is directly affected by the quality of ex vivo PFC cell labeling. When co-cultured with cells for longer periods of time, nanoemulsions tend to settle due to high specific weight of PFC oils (1.5-2.0 g/mL). This in turn can decrease efficacy of excess nanoemulsion removal and reliability of the cell labeling in vitro. To solve this problem, novel PFC nanoemulsions are reported which demonstrate lack of sedimentation and high stability under cell labeling conditions. They are monodisperse, have small droplet size (~130 nm) and low polydispersity (<0.15), show a single peak in the 19F nuclear magnetic resonance spectrum at -71.4 ppm and possess high fluorine content. The droplet size and polydispersity remained unchanged after 160 days of follow up at three temperatures (4, 25 and 37 °C). Further, stressors such as elevated temperature in the presence of cells, and centrifugation, did not affect the nanoemulsion droplet size and polydispersity. Detailed synthetic methodology and in vitro testing for these new PFC nanoemulsions is presented. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.