In vivo tracking and fate of intra-articularly injected superparamagnetic iron oxide particle-labeled multipotent stromal cells in an ovine model of osteoarthritis.

Research paper by Uta U Delling, Walter W Brehm, Marco M Metzger, Eberhard E Ludewig, Karsten K Winter, Henriette H Jülke

Indexed on: 17 Dec '14Published on: 17 Dec '14Published in: Cell transplantation


In this study, superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) particle-labeled mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) were injected intra-articularly into osteoarthritic knee joints. Their fate and distribution were evaluated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and macroscopic and histologic postmortem examination. Osteoarthritis was induced in 12 sheep by bilateral meniscectomy. After 6 weeks, one knee joint received 10 × 10(6) SPIO-labeled MSCs (Molday Ion Rhodamine B). Contralateral knees received a control injection of a) PBS, b) SPIO in PBS, c) 10 × 10(6) nonvital SPIO-labeled MSCs in PBS, or d) no injection. MR images were acquired immediately after injection and 1, 4, 8, and 12 weeks thereafter using a 0.5-T unit and a T2* sequence. Signal intensity of synovial fluid and synovial lining was assessed semiquantitatively using a scoring system. Viable SPIO-labeled MSCs produced a strong hypointense signal in the synovial fluid immediately after injection, but normal signal intensity of the synovial fluid was observed 1 week later. Synovial lining maintained its hypointensity throughout the study period. Nonvital SPIO-labeled MSCs induced hypointense signals of the synovial fluid; synovial lining appeared weak and inconsistently hypointense in the following weeks. Pure SPIO produced a strong hyperintense signal in the synovial fluid at the time of injection only. Histologically, in all knee joints receiving viable SPIO-labeled MSCs, SPIO particles were detected (Prussian blue) within the synovial lining, dorsal fat pad, and neomeniscus tissue, but not in osteochondral samples. Few SPIO particles were detected in joints injected with nonvital SPIO-labeled MSCs. Immunohistologically, no increased cell death (TUNEL) was observed in the area of detected SPIO particles, but we did observe potential chondrogenic cell differentiation (Safranin O or S100β). We conclude that viable SPIO-labeled MSCs remain detectable within the joint for 12 weeks and attach themselves to some but not all diseased joint structures.