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Open Access 19F MRI Tracer Preserves In Vitro and In Vivo Properties of Hematopoietic Stem Cells

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Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have numerous therapeutic applications including immune reconstitution, enzyme replacement, regenerative medicine, and immunomodulation. The trafficking and persistence of these cells after administration is a fundamental question for future therapeutic applications of HSCs. Here, we describe the safe and efficacious labeling of human CD34+ HSCs with a novel, self-delivering perfluorocarbon 19F magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tracer, which has recently been authorized for use in a clinical trial to track therapeutic cells. While various imaging contrast agents have been used to track cellular therapeutics, the impact of this MRI tracer on HSC function has not previously been studied. Both human CD34+ and murine bone marrow (BM) HSCs were effectively labeled with the MRI tracer, with only a slight reduction in viability, relative to mock-labeled cells. In a pilot study, 19F MRI enabled the rapid evaluation of HSC delivery/retention following administration into a rat thigh muscle, revealing the dispersal of HSCs after injection, but not after surgical implantation. To investigate effects on cell functionality, labeled and unlabeled human HSCs were tested in in vitro colony forming unit (CFU) assays, which resulted in equal numbers of total CFU as well as individual CFU types, indicating that labeling did not alter multipotency. Cobblestone assay forming cell precursor frequency was also unaffected, providing additional evidence that stem cell function was preserved after labeling. In vivo tests of multipotency and reconstitution studies in mice with murine BM containing labeled HSCs resulted in normal development of CFU in the spleen, compared to unlabeled cells, and reconstitution of both lymphoid and myeloid compartments. The lack of interference in these complex biological processes provides strong evidence that the function and therapeutic potential of the HSCs are likely maintained after labeling. These data support the safety and efficacy of the MRI tracer for clinical tracking of human stem cells.

Keywords: Cell tracking; Contrast agent; Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tracer; Preclinical safety; Stem cell therapy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Celsense, Inc., Department of Research and Development, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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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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