Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica     
Campan M., Lionetti V., Forini F., Matteucci M., Vannucci L., Chiuppesi F., Di Cristofano C., Faggioni M., Maioli M., Barile L., Messina E., Lombardi M., Pucci A., Pistello M., Recchia F. Ferritin as a reporter gene for in vivo tracking of stem cells by 1.5-T cardiac MRI in a rat model of myocardial infarction. In: American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, vol. 300 (6) pp. H2238 - H2250. [Online First 18 February 2011]
The methods currently utilized to track stem cells by cardiac MRI are affected by important limitations, and new solutions are needed. We tested human ferritin heavy chain (hFTH) as a reporter gene for in vivo tracking of stem cells by cardiac MRI. Swine cardiac stem/progenitor cells were transduced with a lentiviral vector to overexpress hFTH and cultured to obtain cardiospheres (Cs). Myocardial infarction was induced in rats, and, after 45 min, the animals were subjected to intramyocardial injection of ∼200 hFTH-Cs or nontransduced Cs or saline solution in the border zone. By employing clinical standard 1.5-Tesla MRI scanner and a multiecho T2* gradient echo sequence, we localized iron-accumulating tissue only in hearts treated with hFTH-Cs. This signal was detectable at 1 wk after infarction, and its size did not change significantly after 4 wk (6.33 3.05 vs. 4.41 4.38 mm(2)). Cs transduction did not affect their cardioreparative potential, as indicated by the significantly better preserved left ventricular global and regional function and the 36% reduction in infarct size in both groups that received Cs compared with control infarcts. Prussian blue staining confirmed the presence of differentiated, iron-accumulating cells containing mitochondria of porcine origin. Cs-derived cells displayed CD31, α-smooth muscle, and α-sarcomeric actin antigens, indicating that the differentiation into endothelial, smooth muscle and cardiac muscle lineage was not affected by ferritin overexpression. In conclusion, hFTH can be used as a MRI reporter gene to track dividing/differentiating stem cells in the beating heart, while simultaneously monitoring cardiac morpho-functional changes.
URL: http://ajpheart.physiology.org/content/300/6/H2238.abstract
DOI: ajpheart.00935.2010v1 300/6/H2238
Subject stem cells; reporter gene; magnetic resonance imaging; cell tracking; myocardial 79 infarction.

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