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Open Access Noninvasive Imaging of Liver Repopulation Following Hepatocyte Transplantation

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Near infrared fluorescence (NIRF) optical imaging is a technique particularly powerful when studying in vivo processes at the molecular level in preclinical animal models. We recently demonstrated liver irradiation under the additional stimulus of partial hepatectomy as being an effective primer in the rat liver repopulation model based on hepatocyte transplantation. The purpose of this study was to assess optical imaging and the feasibility of donor cell expansion tracking in vivo using a fluorescent probe. Livers of dipeptidylpeptidase IV (DPPIV)-deficient rats were preconditioned with irradiation. Four days later, a partial hepatectomy was performed and wild-type (DPPIV+) hepatocytes were transplanted into recipient livers via the spleen. Repopulation by transplanted DPPIV+ hepatocytes was detected in vivo with Cy5.5-conjugated DPPIV antibody using the eXplore OptixTM System (GE HealthCare). Results were compared with nontransplanted control animals and transplanted animals receiving nonspecific antibody. Optical imaging detected Cy5.5-specific fluorescence in the liver region of the transplanted animals, increasing in intensity with time, representing extensive host liver repopulation within 16 weeks following transplantation. A general pattern of donor cell multiplication emerged, with an initially accelerating growth curve and later plateau phase. In contrast, no specific fluorescence was detected in the control groups. Comparison with ex vivo immunofluorescence staining of liver sections confirmed the optical imaging results. Optical imaging constitutes a potent method of assessing the longitudinal kinetics of liver repopulation in the rat transplantation model. Our results provide a basis for the future development of clinical protocols for suitable fluorescent dyes and imaging technologies.

Keywords: DPPIV; In vivo optical imaging; Irradiation; Near infrared dye Cy5.5; Rat liver repopulation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-01-01

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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.
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