Magnetic resonance imaging of intraspinal stem cell grafts: Tracking and targeted transplantation
Lamanna, Jason J.
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Transplantation of cellular therapeutics into the spinal cord has been explored as treatment for a range of degenerative and traumatic diseases. The post-transplantation fate of cellular therapeutics is poorly understood in both large animal models and in human studies because of limitations in cell graft detection. A minimally invasive technology for cellular graft tracking to visualize grafts in vivo is needed. However, it is important that the diagnostic marker does not impact the engraftment or efficacy of transplanted cells. We developed a straightforward, rapidly translatable method to label human neural progenitor/stem cells with magnetic ferumoxytol nanoparticles. We investigated the potential effect of ferumoxytol labeling on biological properties of the cells and transplanted them into a large animal (porcine) spinal cord. We assessed the feasibility and safety of in vivo diagnostic cell graft tracking using Magnetic Resonance Imaging and post-mortem histological identification in a clinically relevant model. Furthermore, we leveraged this tracking approach to develop and assess a minimally invasive, Magnetic Resonance Imaging-guided technique for targeted intraspinal stem cell graft transplantation in a large animal model.