Photoacoustic Imaging of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Living Mice via Silica-Coated Gold Nanorods
Jesse V. Jokerst, Mridhula Thangaraj, Paul J. Kempen, Robert Sinclair, Sanjiv S. GambhirACS Nano2012
Improved imaging modalities are critically needed for optimizing stem cell therapy. Techniques with real-time content to guide and quantitate cell implantation are especially important in applications such as musculoskeletal regenerative medicine. Here, we report the use of silica- coated gold nanorods as a contrast agent for photoacoustic imaging and quantitation of mesenchymal stem cells in rodent muscle tissue. The silica coating increased the uptake of gold into the cell more than 5-fold, yet no toxicity or proliferation changes were observed in cells loaded with this contrast agent. Pluripotency of the cells was retained, and secretome analysis indicated that only IL-6 was disregulated more than 2-fold from a pool of 26 cytokines. The low background of the technique allowed imaging of down to 100 000 cells . The spatial resolution is 340 μ m, and the temporal resolution is 0.2 s, which is at least an order of magnitude in vivo below existing cell imaging approaches. This approach has significant advantages over traditional cell imaging techniques like positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging including real time monitoring of stem cell therapy.