Serial in vivo MR tracking of magnetically labeled neural spheres transplanted in chronic EAE mice

Tamil Ben-Hur, Ruud B. Van Heeswijk, Ofira Einstein, Michal Aharonowiz, Rong Xue, Emma E. Frost, Susumu Mori, Benjamin E. Reubinoff, Jeff W.M. Bulte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Neural stem cell (NSC) transplantation has been shown to attenuate the severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Central to the future success of NSC transplantation in MS is the ability of transplanted cells to migrate from the site of transplantation to relevant foci of disease. Using magnetically labeled mouse neurospheres and human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived neurospheres, we applied serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the biodynamics of transplanted cell migration in a chronic mouse EAE model. Magnetic labeling did not affect the in vitro and in vivo characteristics of cells as multipotential precursors. Cell migration occurred along white matter (WM) tracts (especially the corpus callosum (CC), fimbria, and internal capsule), predominantly early in the acute phase of disease, and in an asymmetric manner. The distance of cell migration correlated well with clinical severity of disease and the number of microglia in the WM tracts, supporting the notion that inflammatory signals promote transplanted cell migration. This study shows for the first time that hESC-derived neural precursors also respond to tissue signals in an MS model, similarly to rodent cells. The results are directly relevant for designing and optimizing cell therapies for MS, and achieving a better understanding of in vivo cell dynamics and cell-tissue interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-171
Number of pages8
JournalMagnetic resonance in medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Human embryonic stem cells
  • Inflammation
  • MR imaging
  • Migration
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neural stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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