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Stem Cells Transl Med. 2012 Apr;1(4):333-41. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2011-0043. Epub 2012 Apr 2.

Magnetic resonance imaging and fluorescence labeling of clinical-grade mesenchymal stem cells without impacting their phenotype: study in a rat model of stroke.

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  • 1Institut National de Santé et de Recherche Médicale, Grenoble, France.


Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) have strong potential for cell therapy after stroke. Tracking stem cells in vivo following a graft can provide insight into many issues regarding optimal route and/or dosing. hMSCs were labeled for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and histology with micrometer-sized superparamagnetic iron oxides (M-SPIOs) that contained a fluorophore. We assessed whether M-SPIO labeling obtained without the use of a transfection agent induced any cell damage in clinical-grade hMSCs and whether it may be useful for in vivo MRI studies after stroke. M-SPIOs provided efficient intracellular hMSC labeling and did not modify cell viability, phenotype, or in vitro differentiation capacity. Following grafting in a rat model of stroke, labeled hMSCs could be detected using both in vivo MRI and fluorescent microscopy until 4 weeks following transplantation. However, whereas good label stability and unaffected hMSC viability were observed in vitro, grafted hMSCs may die and release iron particles in vivo.

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