Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Medical Biophysics


Goldhawk, Donna E.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to track cellular activities in the body using iron-based contrast agents. However, intrinsic cellular iron handling mechanisms may also influence the detection of magnetic resonance (MR) contrast. For instance, inflammation involves downregulation of iron export in macrophages by the hormone hepcidin, due to degradation of the iron export protein, ferroportin (Fpn). We examined the effect of hepcidin on iron regulation and MR transverse relaxation rates in multi-potent P19 cells, which display high iron export activity, similar to macrophages. In response to varying conditions of iron supplementation, our results showed similar Fpn expression in P19 cells as reported for M2 macrophages. Also, hepcidin treatment resulted in Fpn degradation in P19 cells, similar to the reported response of M1 macrophages. The correlation between total cellular iron content and MR transverse relaxation rates was significantly different between hepcidin and non-hepcidin treated P19 cells, providing a tool to non-invasively distinguish different macrophage phenotypes and potentially improve the monitoring of inflammatory cell activities.