, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 911-922
Date: 02 Oct 2010

In Situ Labeling and Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Transplanted Human Hepatic Stem Cells

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The purpose is to address the problem in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of contrast agent dilution.


In situ magnetic labeling of cells and MRI were used to assess distribution and growth of human hepatic stem cells (hHpSCs) transplanted into severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)/non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. It was done with commercially available magnetic microbeads coupled to an antibody to a surface antigen, epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM), uniquely expressed in the liver by hepatic progenitors.


We validated the microbead connection to cells and related MRI data to optical microscopy observations in order to develop a means to quantitatively estimate cell numbers in the aggregates detected. Cell counts of hHpSCs at different times post-transplantation revealed quantifiable evidence of cell engraftment and expansion.


This magnetic labeling methodology can be used with any antibody coupled to a magnetic particle to target any surface antigen that distinguishes transplanted cells from host cells, thus facilitating studies that define methods and strategies for clinical cell therapy programs.