Molecular and cellular imaging

Preclinical MRI is an emerging field of magnetic resonance imaging applied to small animals to answer questions of essential impact for medical basic research. Applications can be found in tumor research, neurological diseases and, generally spoken, to understand and reveal disease pathways in human-like animal models. Our expertise in this field is molecular imaging a subdivision of preclinical research whereas molecular targeted contrast agents and biomarkers are used to investigate transactions on cellular or even on biomolecular scales with MR tomography.

Beside there are dedicated preclinical MR systems, we are developing novel imaging strategies for small animals on a 3 Tesla MRI-platform which is in clinical use. The motivation for working on comparable low field strengths can be found in the ease of translating research results into clinical practice.

Together with the Center for Medical Research Graz (ZMF) we share our expertise with groups dealing with animal models for basic medical research and offer non-invasive in-vivo imaging of rodents.

Contact: Clemens Diwoky

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Recent topics

Fat distribution of diet-induced obesity in a wildtype mouse left and a GATA4-KO-mouse to the right  [2].

Qualitative and quantitative fat imaging of white and brown adipose tissue in mice [1][2].


[1] Adipose Triglyceride Lipase Contributes to Cancer - Associated Cachexia Science. 2011 Jun 16. DOI: 10.1126/science.1198973

[2] Loss of intestinal GATA4 prevents diet-induced obesity and promotes insulin sensitivity in mice Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2011 March 300:E478-E488, DOI: 10.​1152/​ajpendo.​00457.​2010

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Development of high resolution MR protocols with optimized scan times for preclinical MRI


Fully balanced ultrashort time to echo pulse-sequence left; resulting image on the right.

A balanced 3D-radial sequence developed at our institute [1] is able to produce 192 slices with an isotropic resolution of 200µm within 6:58 min on a wide-bore clinical scanner. The animal on the images to the right was free breathing and no respiratory trigger was used.


[1] 3D radial bUTE Proc. Intl. Soc. Mag. Reson. Med. (2011), S. 387

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Cell tracking and MRI of stem cells in bone marrow

With ultra-short-time-to-echo sequences our group is succesfull in tracking iron-oxide labeled stem cells in-vivo even weeks after their transplantation.


[1] On Possible Pitfalls in Working on SPIO Labelled Cells with 2D UTE Sequences Proc. Intl. Soc. Mag. Reson. Med. (2010), S. 1875

[2]Quantification of Cell Density of SPIO-Labelled Cell Populations Proc. Intl. Soc. Mag. Reson. Med. (2010), S. 4192

[3] Human Vascular Progenitor Cells Can Guide Mesodermal Lineage Choice of Mesenchymal Stem and Progenitor Cells After Co-Transplantation In Vivo ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition (2010), S. 939

[4] Imaging of SPIO Labelled Endothelial Networks at 3, 7 and 11.7 Tesla Proc. Intl. Soc. Mag. Reson. Med. (2009), S. 915

[5] UTE Imaging for Single Cell Detection with Positive Contrast Proc. Intl. Soc. Mag. Reson. Med. (2009), S. 804

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Development of new contrast agents based on nanoparticles

  • Iron oxide loaded liposomes
  • Chemical exchange saturation transfer with liposomes


[1] Magnetoliposomes: Liposomal Contrast Agents Sci Pharm (2010) 78: 569

[2] Targeted Sterically Stabilized Liposomes for
Diagnostic Imaging of Atherosclerotic Plaques 78th EAS Congress (2010) S. 9

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Institute of Medical Engineering
Stremayrgasse 16/III
A-8010 Graz

Phone: +43 (0) 316 873-35401