The use of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) has provided new possibilities in biophysics and biomedical imaging technologies. The magnetization dynamics of SPIONs, which can be influenced by the environment, are of central interest. In this work, different biological SPION environments are used to investigate three different calibration methods for stem cell monitoring in magnetic particle imaging. It is shown that calibrating using SPIONs immobilized via agarose gel or intracellular uptake results in superior stem cell image quality compared to mobile SPIONs in saline. This superior image quality enables more sensitive localization and identification of a significantly smaller number of magnetically labeled stem cells. The results are important for cell tracking and monitoring of future SPION based therapies such as hyperthermia based cancer therapies, targeted drug delivery, or tissue regeneration approaches where it is crucial to image a sufficiently small number of SPIONs interacting with biological matter.

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