Non-invasive longitudinal tracking of human amniotic fluid stem cells in the mouse heart

Dawn M. Delo, John Olson, Pedro M. Baptista, Ralph B. D'Agostino, Anthony Atala, Jian Ming Zhu, Shay Soker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Human stem cells from various sources have potential therapeutic applications. The clinical implementation of these therapies introduces the need for methods of noninvasive tracking of cells. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a high resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique for in vivo detection and tracking of superparamagnetic micron sized iron oxide particle (MPIO)-labeled human amniotic fluid stem (hAFS) cells injected in the mouse heart. Because of the small subject size, MR signal and resolution of the in vivo MRI were increased using strong gradients, a 7.0 Tesla magnet, and an ECG and respiratory gated gradient echo sequence. MRI images of mouse heart were acquired during a 4 week course of this longitudinal study. At the end of the study, histological analysis was used to correlate cell localization with the MRI results. Introduction of MPIOs into hAFS had no significant effect upon cell proliferation and differentiation. Results of flow cytometry analysis indicated that hAFS cells remained labeled for up to 4 weeks. MRI of MPIO-labeled hAFS cells injected in agarose gels resulted in significant hypointense regions. Labeled hAFS cells injected into mouse hearts produced hypointense regions in the MR images that could be detected 24 hours and 7, 14, 21 and 28 days post injection. The co-localization of labeled cells within the hypointense regions was confirmed by histological analysis. These results indicate that high resolution MRI can be used successfully for noninvasive longitudinal tracking of hAFS cells injected in the mouse heart. The potential utility of this finding is that injected stem cells can be tracked in vivo and might serve to monitor cell survival, proliferation and integration into myocardial tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1193
Number of pages9
JournalStem cells and development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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