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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1198. doi: 10.1038/srep01198. Epub 2013 Feb 5.

Near-infrared fluorescence imaging for noninvasive trafficking of scaffold degradation.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Biodegradable scaffolds could revolutionize tissue engineering and regenerative medicine; however, in vivo matrix degradation and tissue ingrowth processes are not fully understood. Currently a large number of samples and animals are required to track biodegradation of implanted scaffolds, and such nonconsecutive single-time-point information from various batches result in inaccurate conclusions. To overcome this limitation, we developed functional biodegradable scaffolds by employing invisible near-infrared fluorescence and followed their degradation behaviors in vitro and in vivo. Using optical fluorescence imaging, the degradation could be quantified in real-time, while tissue ingrowth was tracked by measuring vascularization using magnetic resonance imaging in the same animal over a month. Moreover, we optimized the in vitro process of enzyme-based biodegradation to predict implanted scaffold behaviors in vivo, which was closely related to the site of inoculation. This combined multimodal imaging will benefit tissue engineers by saving time, reducing animal numbers, and offering more accurate conclusions.

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