Non-invasive imaging of transplanted human neural stem cells and ECM scaffold remodeling in the stroke-damaged rat brain by 19F- and diffusion-MRI
Transplantation of human neural stem cells (hNSCs) is emerging as a viable treatment for stroke related brain injury. However, intraparenchymal grafts do not regenerate lost tissue, but rather integrate into the host parenchyma without significantly affecting the lesion cavity. Providing a structural support for the delivered cells appears important for cell based therapeutic approaches. The non-invasive monitoring of therapeutic methods would provide valuable information regarding therapeutic strategies but remains a challenge. Labeling transplanted cells with metal-based 1H-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents affects the visualization of the lesion cavity. Herein, we demonstrate that a 19F-MRI contrast agent can adequately monitor the distribution of transplanted cells, whilst allowing an evaluation of the lesion cavity and the formation of new tissue on 1H-MRI scans. Twenty percent of cells labeled with the 19F agent were of host origin, potentially reflecting the re-uptake of label from dead transplanted cells. Both T2- and diffusion-weighted MRI scans indicated that transplantation of hNSCs suspended in a gel form of a xenogeneic extracellular matrix (ECM) bioscaffold resulted in uniformly distributed cells throughout the lesion cavity. However, diffusion MRI indicated that the injected materials did not yet establish diffusion barriers (i.e. cellular network, fiber tracts) normally found within striatal tissue. The ECM bioscaffold therefore provides an important support to hNSCs for the creation of de novo tissue and multi-nuclei MRI represents an adept method for the visualization of some aspects of this process. However, significant developments of both the transplantation paradigm, as well as regenerative imaging, are required to successfully create new tissue in the lesion cavity and to monitor this process non-invasively.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 33, Issue 10, April 2012, Pages 2858–2871