Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Longitudinal MRI contrast enhanced monitoring of early tumour development with manganese chloride (MnCl2) and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIOs) in a CT1258 based in vivo model of prostate cancer

Katharina A Sterenczak1, Martin Meier3, Silke Glage4, Matthias Meyer4, Saskia Willenbrock1, Patrick Wefstaedt1, Martina Dorsch4, Jörn Bullerdiek12, Hugo Murua Escobar1*, Hans Hedrich4 and Ingo Nolte1

Author Affiliations

1 Small Animal Clinic and Research Cluster of Excellence “REBIRTH”, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany

2 Center for Human Genetics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

3 Institute of Laboratory Animal Science and Research Cluster of Excellence “REBIRTH” (AG36), Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

4 Institute of Laboratory Animal Science, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:284  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-284

Published: 11 July 2012



Cell lines represent a key tool in cancer research allowing the generation of neoplasias which resemble initial tumours in in-vivo animal models. The characterisation of early tumour development is of major interest in order to evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic agents. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based in-vivo characterisation allows visualisation and characterisation of tumour development in early stages prior to manual palpation. Contrast agents for MRI such as superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIOs) and manganese chloride (MnCl2) represent powerful tools for the in-vivo characterisation of early stage tumours. In this experimental study, we labelled prostate cancer cells with MnCl2 or SPIOs in vitro and used 1 T MRI for tracing labelled cells in-vitro and 7 T MRI for tracking in an in-vivo animal model.


Labelling of prostate cancer cells CT1258 was established in-vitro with MnCl2 and SPIOs. In-vitro detection of labelled cells in an agar phantom was carried out through 1 T MRI while in-vivo detection was performed using 7 T MRI after subcutaneous (s.c.) injection of labelled cells into NOD-Scid mice (n = 20). The animals were scanned in regular intervals until euthanization. The respective tumour volumes were analysed and corresponding tumour masses were subjected to histologic examination.


MnCl2in-vitro labelling resulted in no significant metabolic effects on proliferation and cell vitality. In-vitro detection-limit accounted 105 cells for MnCl2 as well as for SPIOs labelling. In-vivo 7 T MRI scans allowed detection of 103 and 104 cells. In-vivo MnCl2 labelled cells were detectable from days 4–16 while SPIO labelling allowed detection until 4 days after s.c. injection. MnCl2 labelled cells were highly tumourigenic in NOD-Scid mice and the tumour volume development was characterised in a time dependent manner. The amount of injected cells correlated with tumour size development and disease progression. Histological analysis of the induced tumour masses demonstrated characteristic morphologies of prostate adenocarcinoma.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study reporting direct in-vitro MnCl2 labelling and 7 T based in-vivo MRI tracing of cancer cells in a model of prostate cancer. MnCl2 labelling was found to be suitable for in-vivo tracing allowing long detection periods. The labelled cells kept their highly tumourigenic potential in-vivo. Tumour volume development was visualised prior to manual palpation allowing tumour characterisation in early stages of the disease.