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Assessment of a Nuclear Affinity Labeling Method for Tracking Implanted Mesenchymal Stem Cells

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Therapeutic implantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is entering the realm of clinical trials for several human diseases, and yet much remains uncertain regarding their dynamic distribution and cell fate after in vivo application. Discrepancies in the literature can be attributed in part to the use of different cell labeling/tracking methods and cell administration protocols. To identify a stem cell detection method suitable for myocardial implantation in a large animal model, we experimented on three different MSC labeling methods: adenovirus-mediated expression of enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP) and β-galactosidase (LacZ), and nuclear staining with DAPI. Intramuscular and intracoronary administrations of labeled porcine MSCs identified the nuclear affinity dye to be a reliable stem cell tracking marker. Stem cell identification is facilitated by an optimized live cell labeling condition generating bright blue fluorescence sharply confined to the nucleus. DAPI-labeled MSCs retained full viability, ceased proliferation, and exhibited an increased differentiation potential. The labeled MSCs remained fully active in expressing key growth factor and cytokine genes, and notably exhibited enhanced expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand SDF1, indicating their competency in response to tissue injury. Histological analysis revealed that approximately half a million MSCs or ∼2% of the administered MSCs remained localized in the normal pig heart 2 weeks after coronary infusion. That the vast majority of these identified MSCs were interstitial indicated the ability of MSCs to migrate across the coronary endothelium. No evidence was obtained indicating MSC differentiation to cardiomyocyte.
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Keywords: Heart; Implantation; Mesenchymal stem cells; Tracking

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2008

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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