The role of noninvasive cellular imaging in developing cell-based therapies for neurodegenerative disorders

Piotr Walczak, Jeff W.M. Bulte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Stem and progenitor cells from various sources are currently recognized as entities with potential for the treatment of numerous neurodegenerative diseases. It has been observed in many animal models that transplantation of stem cells induces functional improvement. As a result of these findings, the first clinical cell transplantation trials were initiated, including those for Parkinson's disease and cerebral ischemia patients. However, in many patients, although modest improvements have been observed, these improvements were not sufficient to warrant invasive and possibly risky cell therapy. Thus, it is apparent that therapeutic success requires a better understanding of the mechanisms of action and the ability to control these mechanisms that underlie functional improvements, permitting amplification of the therapeutic effect. Considering the complexity of the nervous system, the task of repairing damaged or dysfunctional brain tissue with naïve cellular elements that require spatially and temporally accurate governance may seem daunting. However, the hope for faster and more inclusive progress in this field arises from recent developments in medical biotechnology that offers scientists increasingly sophisticated tools to study and control biological processes. One such technology with great potential for neurotransplantation is noninvasive cellular imaging. This tool allows real-time 'supervision' of grafted cells, as well as monitoring biodistribution and development. In this review, we highlight the current challenges in the field of cell-based therapy for neurodegenerative disorders and outline the role and capabilities of different cellular imaging techniques in addressing those issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-313
Number of pages8
JournalNeurodegenerative Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Bioluminescence
  • Contrast agents
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Molecular imaging
  • Stem cells, transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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