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Int J Nanomedicine. 2011;6:815-23. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S17611. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Dual-modal tracking of transplanted mesenchymal stem cells after myocardial infarction.

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Department of Cardiology, Zhongda Hospital, Medical School of Southeast University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.



Results for implantation efficiency and effective improvement of cardiac function in the field of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are controversial. To attempt to clarify this debate, we utilized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and near-infrared optical imaging (OI) to explore the effects of different delivery modes of mesenchymal stem cells on cell retention time and cardiac function after myocardial infarction (MI).


Rat MSCs were labeled with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and 1, 1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindodicarbocyanine, 4-chlorobenzenesulfonate salt (DiD) for noninvasive cell tracking in a rat MI model. Rats underwent coronary artery ligation and were randomized into three experimental groups: intravenous (IV), intramyocardial (IM), and a control group. The first two groups referred to the route of delivery of the transplanted dual-labeled MSCs; whereas the control group was given an IV injection of serum-free medium one day post-MI. Cellular engraftment was determined 1 day and 7 days post cell delivery by measuring the iron and optical signals in explanted organs. Prussian blue staining and fluorescent microscopy were performed on histological sections for iron and DiD, respectively. Cardiac function was measured by echocardiography on day 7.


The cardiac function of the IM group increased significantly compared to the IV and control groups at day 7. In the IM group, labeled cells were visualized in the infracted heart by serial MRI, and the intensity by OI was significantly higher on day 1. In the IV group, the heart signals were significantly attenuated by dual-modal tracking at two time points, but the lung signals in OI were significantly stronger than the IM group at both time points.


IM injection of MSCs increased cell engraftment within infarcted hearts and improved cardiac function after MI. However, IV infusion has a low efficacy due to the cell trapping in the lung. Therefore, direct injection may provide an advantage over IV, with regard to retention of stem cells and protection of cardiac function.


DiD; cardiac function; myocardial infarction; stem cell tracking; superparamagnetic iron oxide

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