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Cell Transplant. 2013;22(5):881-92.

Imaging neural stem cell graft-induced structural repair in stroke.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford Stroke Center and Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovationand Translational Neurosciences, Stanford, CA, USA.


Stem cell therapy ameliorates motor deficits in experimental stroke model. Multimodal molecular imaging enables real-time longitudinal monitoring of infarct location, size, and transplant survival. In the present study, we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to track the infarct evolution,tissue repair, and the fate of grafted cells. We genetically engineered embryonic stem cell-derived neural stem cells (NSCs) with a triple fusion reporter gene to express monomeric red fluorescence protein and herpes simplex virus-truncated thymidine kinase for multimodal molecular imaging and SPIO labeled for MRI. The infarct size as well as fate and function of grafted cells were tracked in real time for 3 months using MRI and PET. We report that grafted NSCs reduced the infarct size in animals with less than 0.1 cm(3) initial infarct in a dose-dependent manner, while larger stroke was not amenable to such beneficial effects. PET imaging revealed increased metabolic activity in grafted animals and visualized functioning grafted cells in vivo. Immunohistopathological analysis demonstrated that, after a 3-month survival period, grafted NSCs dispersed in the stroke-lesioned parenchyma and differentiated into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Longitudinal multimodal imaging provides insights into time course dose-dependent interactions between NSC grafts and structural changes in infarcted tissue.

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