Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging modality which, in conjunction with biopsies, provide a qualitative assessment of tumor response to treatment. Intravenous injection of contrast agents such as fluorine (19F) nanoemulsions labels systemic macrophages, which can, then, be tracked in real time with MRI. This method can provide quantifiable insights into the behavior of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in the tumor microenvironment and macrophage recruitment during therapy. Methods: Female mice received mammary fat pad injections of murine breast or colon cancer cell lines. The mice then received an intravenous 19F nanoemulsion injection, followed by a baseline 19F MRI. For each cancer model, half of the mice then received 8 Gy of localized radiation therapy (RT), while others remained untreated. The mice were monitored for two weeks for tumor growth and 9F signal using MRI. Results: Across both cohorts, the RT-treated groups presented significant tumor growth reduction or arrest, contrary to the untreated groups. Similarly, the fluorine signal in treated groups increased significantly as early as four days post therapy. The fluorine signal change correlated to tumor volumes irrespective of time. Conclusion: These results demonstrate the potential of 19F MRI to non-invasively track macrophages during radiation therapy and its prognostic value with regard to tumor growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5874
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • cancer
  • fluorine
  • macrophage
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • radiation therapy
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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