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Cytotherapy. 2013 Oct;15(10):1266-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2013.05.023.

Effect of transplantation route on stem cell migration to fibrotic liver of rats via cellular magnetic resonance imaging.

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Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, the Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.



Assessing mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) after grafting is essential for understanding their migration and differentiation processes. The present study sought to evaluate via cellular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if transplantation route may have an effect on MSCs engrafting to fibrotic liver of rats.


Rat MSCs were prepared, labeled with superparamagnetic iron oxide and scanned with MRI. Labeled MSCs were transplanted via the portal vein or vena caudalis to rats with hepatic fibrosis. MRI was performed in vitro before and after transplantation. Histologic examination was performed. MRI scan and imaging parameter optimization in vitro and migration under in vivo conditions were demonstrated.


Strong MRI susceptibility effects could be found on gradient echo-weighted, or T2∗-weighted, imaging sequences from 24 h after labeling to passage 4 of labeled MSCs in vitro. In vivo, MRI findings of the portal vein group indicated lower signal in liver on single shot fast spin echo-weighted, or T2-weighted, imaging and T2∗-weighted imaging sequences. The low liver MRI signal increased gradually from 0-3 h and decreased gradually from 3 h to 14 days post-transplantation. The distribution pattern of labeled MSCs in liver histologic sections was identical to that of MRI signal. It was difficult to find MSCs in tissues near the portal area on day 14 after transplantation; labeled MSCs appeared in fibrous tuberculum at the edge of the liver. No MRI signal change and a positive histologic examination were observed in the vena caudalis group.


The portal vein route seemed to be more beneficial than the vena caudalis on MSC migration to fibrotic liver of rats via MRI.


cell labeling; magnetic resonance imaging; mesenchymal stromal cells; transplantation

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