The incidence of accidental and intentional acid skin burns is rising. Current treatment strategies are mostly inadequate, leaving victims disfigured and without treatment options. Here, we have shown that transplantation of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) accelerates the process of acid burn wound-healing. Pre-conditioning of ASCs using ascorbic acid (AA) or hypoxic conditions provided additional benefit. While the wounds were ultimately healed in all mice, histological analysis revealed that, in non-transplanted animals, the number of hair follicles was reduced. Bioluminescent imaging (BLI) of transplanted ASCs revealed a gradual loss of transplanted cells, with a similar rate of cell death for each treatment group. The signal of fluorinated cells detected by a clinically applicable 19F MRI method correlated with the BLI findings, which points to 19F MRI as a reliable method with which to track ASCs after transplantation to skin wounds. No difference in therapeutic effect or cell survival was observed between labeled and non-labeled cells. We conclude that, despite being short-lived, transplanted ASCs can accelerate wound-healing and reduce hair loss in acid-burn skin injury. The fluorine nanoemulsion is a clinically applicable cell label capable of reporting on the survival of transplanted cells.
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