Research ArticleImaging

Intracellular Aggregation of Multimodal Silica Nanoparticles for Ultrasound-Guided Stem Cell Implantation

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Science Translational Medicine  20 Mar 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 177, pp. 177ra35
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005228

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The promises of cardiac stem cell therapy have yet to be fully realized, in part because of poor survival and engraftment efficacy of implanted cells. Cells die after implantation owing to ischemia, inflammation, immune response, as well as mis-injection or implantation into fibrotic tissue. Imaging tools can help implant cells in areas of the heart most receptive to stem cell therapy and monitor the efficacy of treatment by reporting the viability, location, and number of implanted stem cells. We describe a multimodal, silica-based nanoparticle that can be used for cell sorting (fluorescence), real-time guided cell implantation ultrasound, and high-resolution, long-term monitoring by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The nanoparticle agent increased the ultrasound and MRI contrast of labeled human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) 700 and 200% versus unlabeled cells, respectively, and allowed cell imaging in animal models for 13 days after implantation. The agent had no significant impact on hMSC cell metabolic activity, proliferation, or pluripotency, and it increased the production of many paracrine factors implicated in cardiac repair. Electron microscopy and ultrasound imaging suggest that the mechanism of action is in vivo aggregation of the 300-nm silica nanoparticles into larger silica frameworks that amplify the ultrasound backscatter. The detection limit in cardiac tissue was 250,000 hMSCs via MRI and 70,000 via ultrasound. This ultrasound-guided cell delivery and multimodal optical/ultrasound/MRI intracardiac cell-tracking platform could improve cell therapy in the clinic by minimizing misdelivery or implantation into fibrotic tissue.

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