Micrometer-sized iron oxide particles (MPIOs) attract increasing interest as contrast agents for cellular tracking by clinical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Despite the great potential of MPIOs for in vivo imaging of labeled cells, little is known on the intracellular localization of these particles following uptake due to the lack of techniques with the ability to monitor the particle uptake in vivo at single-cell level. Here, we show that coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy enables non-invasive, label-free imaging of MPIOs in living cells with submicron resolution in three dimensions. CARS allows simultaneous visualization of the cell framework and the MPIOs, where the particles can be readily distinguished from other cellular components of comparable dimensions, and localized inside the cell.

Biomed. Opt. Express

Rago, G., Langer, C. M., Brackman, C., Day, J. P. R., Domke, K. F., Raschzok, N., … Bonn, M. (2011). CARS microscopy for the visualization of micrometer-sized iron oxide MRI contrast agents in living cells. Biomed. Opt. Express, 2(9), 2470–2483. doi:10.1364/BOE.2.002470