Skip to main content
Log in

Non-invasive analysis of myoblast transplants in rodent cardiac muscle

  • Published:
The International Journal of Cardiovascular Imaging Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of magnetically labeled stem cells is a non-invasive approach that can provide images with high spatial resolution. We evaluated the ability of a commercially available, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contrast agent to allow the monitoring of myoblast transplants in the rodent heart. Methods and Results: Primary rat myoblasts were efficiently labeled by incubation with ferumoxide–polycation complexes and labeled cells retained their normal capacity to generate mature myotubes. Intra-cellular iron-oxide accumulation resulted in MRI contrast changes, allowing for three-dimensional, non-invasive detection of labeled cells in the rodent myocardium. Histological analysis of hearts injected with labeled myoblasts or control, non-viable myoblasts revealed that areas of MRI contrast changes corresponded to iron contained within engrafted myotubes and scavenger cells up to two months post-injection. Conclusions: The high sensitivity of MR imaging will allow for non-invasive studies of cardiac stem cell migration and homing. Additional techniques are in development to non-invasively determine stem cell engraftment rates, viability and differentiation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others



arginine kinase




Dulbecco’s modified eagle’s medium


fetal bovine serum


food and drug administration


magnetic resonance imaging


phosphate buffered saline




superparamagnetic iron oxide


  • PD Kessler BJ Byrne (1999) ArticleTitleMyoblast cell grafting into heart muscle: cellular biology and potential applications Annu Rev Physiol 61 219–242

    Google Scholar 

  • C Toma MF Pittenger KS Cahill BJ Byrne PD Kessler (2002) ArticleTitleHuman mesenchymal stem cells differentiate to a cardiomyocyte phenotype in the adult murine heart Circulation 105 93–98

    Google Scholar 

  • JW Bulte Y Hoekstra RL Kamman et al. (1992) ArticleTitleSpecific MR imaging of human lymphocytes by monoclonal antibody-guided dextran-magnetite particles Magn Reson Med 25 148–157

    Google Scholar 

  • JW Bulte ID Duncan JA Frank (2002) ArticleTitleIn vivo magnetic resonance tracking of magnetically labeled cells after transplantation J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 22 899–907

    Google Scholar 

  • JW Bulte S Zhang P Gelderen Particlevan et al. (1999) ArticleTitleNeurotransplantation of magnetically labeled oligodendrocyte progenitors: magnetic resonance tracking of cell migration and myelination Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 96 15256–15261

    Google Scholar 

  • G Walter ER Barton HL Sweeney (2000) ArticleTitleNoninvasive measurement of gene expression in skeletal muscle Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97 5151–5155

    Google Scholar 

  • P Menasche (2003) ArticleTitleMyoblast-based cell transplantation Heart Fail Rev 8 221–227

    Google Scholar 

  • M Zhang D Methot V Poppa Y Fujio K Walsh CE Murry (2001) ArticleTitleCardiomyocyte grafting for cardiac repair: graft cell death and anti-death strategies J Mol Cell Cardiol 33 907–921

    Google Scholar 

  • KS Cahill C Toma MF Pittenger PD Kessler BJ Byrne (2003) ArticleTitleCell therapy in the heart: cell production, transplantation, and applications Methods Mol Biol 219 73–81

    Google Scholar 

  • CW Jung P Jacobs (1995) ArticleTitlePhysical and chemical properties of superparamagnetic iron oxide MR contrast agents: ferumoxides, ferumoxtran, ferumoxsil Magn Reson Imaging 13 661–674

    Google Scholar 

  • CP Lollo MG Banaszczyk PM Mullen et al. (2002) ArticleTitlePoly-l-lysine-based gene delivery systems. Synthesis, purification, and application Methods Mol Med 69 1–13

    Google Scholar 

  • B Leobon I Garcin P Menasche JT Vilquin E Audinat S Charpak (2003) ArticleTitleMyoblasts transplanted into rat infarcted myocardium are functionally isolated from their host Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100 7808–7811

    Google Scholar 

  • N AL Attar C Carrion S Ghostine et al. (2003) ArticleTitleLong-term (1 year) functional and histological results of autologous skeletal muscle cells transplantation in rat Cardiovasc Res 58 142–148

    Google Scholar 

  • H Reinecke V Poppa CE Murry (2002) ArticleTitleSkeletal muscle stem cells do not transdifferentiate into cardiomyocytes after cardiac grafting J Mol Cell Cardiol 34 241–249

    Google Scholar 

  • J Garot T Unterseeh E Teiger et al. (2003) ArticleTitleMagnetic resonance imaging of targeted catheter-based implantation of myogenic precursor cells into infarcted left ventricular myocardium J Am Coll Cardiol 41 1841–1846

    Google Scholar 

  • Hill JM, Dick AJ, Raman VK, et al. Serial Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Injected Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Circulation 2003.

  • AY Louie MM Huber ET Ahrens et al. (2000) ArticleTitleIn vivo visualization of gene expression using magnetic resonance imaging Nat Biotechnol 18 321–325

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Glenn A. Walter.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cahill, K.S., Germain, S., Byrne, B.J. et al. Non-invasive analysis of myoblast transplants in rodent cardiac muscle. Int J Cardiovasc Imaging 20, 593–598 (2004).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: