Theranostics 2014; 4(10):990-1001. doi:10.7150/thno.9268


Molecular Imaging in Tracking Tumor-Specific Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTLs)

Zhiyi Liu, Zheng Li

Department of Translational Imaging, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Weill Medical College Cornell University, 6670 Bertner Avenue, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Despite the remarkable progress of adoptive T cell therapy in cancer treatment, there remains an urgent need for the noninvasive tracking of the transfused T cells in patients to determine their biodistribution, viability, and functionality. With emerging molecular imaging technologies and cell-labeling methods, noninvasive in vivo cell tracking is experiencing impressive progress toward revealing the mechanisms and functions of these cells in real time in preclinical and clinical studies. Such cell tracking methods have an important role in developing effective T cell therapeutic strategies and steering decision-making process in clinical trials. On the other hand, they could provide crucial information to accelerate the regulatory approval process on the T cell therapy. In this review, we revisit the advances in tracking the tumor-specific CTLs, highlighting the latest development in human studies and the key challenges.

Keywords: molecular imaging, noninvasive cell tracking, cytotoxic T cells, immunotherapy, adoptive T cell transfer, cell labeling.

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How to cite this article:
Liu Z, Li Z. Molecular Imaging in Tracking Tumor-Specific Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTLs). Theranostics 2014; 4(10):990-1001. doi:10.7150/thno.9268. Available from