Improved Imaging of Magnetically Labeled Cells Using Rotational Magnetomotive Optical Coherence Tomography

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


In this paper, we present a reliable and robust method for magnetomotive optical coherence tomography (MM-OCT) imaging of single cells labeled with iron oxide particles. This method employs modulated longitudinal and transverse magnetic fields to evoke alignment and rotation of anisotropic magnetic structures in the sample volume. Experimental evidence suggests that magnetic particles assemble themselves in elongated chains when exposed to a permanent magnetic field. Magnetomotion in the intracellular space was detected and visualized by means of 3D OCT as well as laser speckle reflectometry as a 2D reference imaging method. Our experiments on mesenchymal stem cells embedded in agar scaffolds show that the magnetomotive signal in rotational MM-OCT is significantly increased by a factor of ˜3 compared to previous pulsed MM-OCT, although the solenoid's power consumption was 16 times lower. Finally, we use our novel method to image ARPE-19 cells, a human retinal pigment epithelium cell line. Our results permit magnetomotive imaging with higher sensitivity and the use of low power magnetic fields or larger working distances for future three-dimensional cell tracking in target tissues and organs.


Original languageEnglish
Article number444
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

External IDs

Scopus 85019060780



  • Cell imaging, Dynamic contrast agents, Fluorescence microscopy, Laser speckle, Magnetic particles, Optical coherence tomography