In vivo and ex vivo MRI detection of localized and disseminated neural stem cell grafts in the mouse brain

S. Magnitsky, D. J. Watson, R. M. Walton, S. Pickup, J. W.M. Bulte, J. H. Wolfe, H. Poptani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The application of stem cells as delivery vehicles opens up the opportunity for targeting therapeutic proteins to the damaged or degenerating central nervous system. Neural stem cell (NSC) lines have been shown to engraft, differentiate and correct certain central nervous system diseases. The present study was performed to test the ability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in detecting transplanted NSCs under conditions of limited migration in the normal adult mouse brain versus widespread migration when the cells are transplanted neonatally. The C17.2 NSC line was labeled in vitro with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) particles and the labeled cells were implanted intracranially. Serial in vivo gradient echo MR imaging was performed using a 4.7 T horizontal bore magnet. High resolution ex vivo images of the isolated brains were performed at 9.4 T, and the presence of iron was correlated with Prussian blue staining in histological sections. Adult animals injected with SPIO-labeled stem cells exhibited hypointense regions near the injection site that were observed up to 32 days after injection. In neonatally transplanted animals, MR signal intensity from transplanted NSCs was not apparent in in vivo imaging but ex vivo MR images revealed small hypointense regions throughout the brain including the olfactory bulbs, cortex and the cerebellum, reflecting the wide distribution of the engrafted cells. These regions were correlated with Prussian blue staining, which confirmed the presence of SPIO particles inside the engrafted cells. We have shown that MRI is capable of differentiating localized and widespread engraftment of C17.2 stem cells in the central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-754
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005


  • C17.2
  • Iron oxide particles
  • MRI
  • Neural stem cells
  • Stem cell tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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