Multimodal imaging of stem cell implantation in the central nervous system of mice
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Journal of visualized experiments. - -
, p. e3906,1-e3906,6
University of Antwerp
During the past decade, stem cell transplantation has gained increasing interest as primary or secondary therapeutic modality for a variety of diseases, both in preclinical and clinical studies. However, to date results regarding functional outcome and/or tissue regeneration following stem cell transplantation are quite diverse. Generally, a clinical benefit is observed without profound understanding of the underlying mechanism(s)1. Therefore, multiple efforts have led to the development of different molecular imaging modalities to monitor stem cell grafting with the ultimate aim to accurately evaluate survival, fate and physiology of grafted stem cells and/or their micro-environment. Changes observed in one or more parameters determined by molecular imaging might be related to the observed clinical effect. In this context, our studies focus on the combined use of bioluminescence imaging (BLI), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and histological analysis to evaluate stem cell grafting. BLI is commonly used to non-invasively perform cell tracking and monitor cell survival in time following transplantation2-7, based on a biochemical reaction where cells expressing the Luciferase-reporter gene are able to emit light following interaction with its substrate (e.g. D-luciferin)8, 9. MRI on the other hand is a non-invasive technique which is clinically applicable10 and can be used to precisely locate cellular grafts with very high resolution11-15, although its sensitivity highly depends on the contrast generated after cell labeling with an MRI contrast agent. Finally, postmortem histological analysis is the method of choice to validate research results obtained with non-invasive techniques with highest resolution and sensitivity. Moreover end-point histological analysis allows us to perform detailed phenotypic analysis of grafted cells and/or the surrounding tissue, based on the use of fluorescent reporter proteins and/or direct cell labeling with specific antibodies. In summary, we here visually demonstrate the complementarities of BLI, MRI and histology to unravel different stem cell- and/or environment-associated characteristics following stem cell grafting in the CNS of mice. As an example, bone marrow-derived stromal cells, genetically engineered to express the enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein (eGFP) and firefly Luciferase (fLuc), and labeled with blue fluorescent micronsized iron oxide particles (MPIOs), will be grafted in the CNS of immune-competent mice and outcome will be monitored by BLI, MRI and histology (Figure 1).