Myocardial regeneration using stem and progenitor cell transplantation in the injured heart has recently become a major goal in the treatment of cardiac disease. Experimental studies and clinical applications have generally been encouraging, although the functional benefits that have been attained clinically are modest and inconsistent. Low cell retention and engraftment after myocardial delivery is a key factor limiting the successful application of cell therapy, irrespective of the type of cell or the delivery method. To improve engraftment, accurate methods for tracking cell fate and quantifying cell survival need to be applied. Several laboratory techniques (histological methods, real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, radiolabeling) have provided invaluable information about cell engraftment. In vivo imaging (nuclear medicine modalities, bioluminescence, and MRI) has the potential to provide quantitative information noninvasively, enabling longitudinal assessment of cell fate. In the present review, we present several available methods for assessing cell engraftment, and we critically discuss their strengths and limitations. In addition to providing insights about the mechanisms mediating cell loss after transplantation, these methods can evaluate techniques for augmenting engraftment, such as tissue engineering approaches, preconditioning, and genetic modification, allowing optimization of cell therapies.
- Reporter genes
- Stem cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine