BACKGROUND: Noninvasive imaging techniques would be needed to validate the therapeutic benefits of cell transplantation therapy for central nervous system disorders.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether near-infrared (NIR)-emitting fluorescence tracer, quantum dots, would be useful to noninvasively visualize the bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) transplanted into the infarct brain in living animals.
METHODS: Rat BMSCs were labeled with QD800. In vitro and in vivo conditions to visualize NIR fluorescence were precisely optimized. The QD800-labeled BMSCs were stereotactically transplanted into the ipsilateral striatum of the rats subjected to permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion 7 days after the insult. Using the NIR fluorescence imaging technique, the behaviors of BMSCs were serially visualized during the 8 weeks after transplantation.
RESULTS: NIR fluorescence imaging could noninvasively detect the NIR fluorescence emitted from the transplanted BMSCs engrafted in the peri-infarct neocortex through the scalp up to 8 weeks after transplantation. The intensity gradually increased and reached the peak at 4 weeks. The results were supported by the findings on ex vivo NIR fluorescence imaging and histological analysis.
CONCLUSION: NIR fluorescence imaging is valuable in monitoring the behaviors of donor cells in the rodent brain. The results would allow new opportunities to develop noninvasive NIR fluorescence imaging as a modality to track the BMSCs transplanted into the brain.