Use of MR cell tracking to evaluate targeting of glial precursor cells to inflammatory tissue by exploiting the very late antigen-4 docking receptor

Michael Gorelik, Inema Orukari, Joanne Wang, Shashikala Galpoththawela, Heechul Kim, Michael Levy, Assaf Gilad, Amnon Bar-Shir, Douglas A. Kerr, Andre Levchenko, Jeff W.M. Bulte, Piotr Walczak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine if glial precursor cells can be targeted to inflamed brain through overexpression of very late antigen-4 (VLA-4) and whether this docking process can be monitored with magnetic resonance (MR) cell tracking after intraarterial injection. Materials and Methods: All experimental procedures were performed between August 2010 and February 2012 and were approved by the institutional animal care and use committee. Human glial precursor cells (hGPs) were transfected with VLA-4 and labeled with superparamagnetic iron oxide that contained rhodamine. A microfluidic adhesion assay was used for assessing VLA-4 receptor-mediated cell docking in vitro. A rat model of global lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-mediated brain inflammation was used to induce global vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) expression. hGPs were infused into the carotid artery in four animal cohorts (consisting of three rats each): rats that received VLA-4-naive hGPs but did not receive LPS, rats that received VLA-4-expressing hGPs but not LPS, rats that received VLA-4-naive hGPs and LPS, and rats that received VLA-4-expressing hGPs and LPS. MR imaging was performed at 9.4 T before and 1, 10, 20, and 30 minutes after injection. Brain tissue was processed for histologic examination. Quantification of low-signal-intensity pixels was performed with pixel-by-pixel analysis for MR images obtained before and after cell injection. Results: With use of the microfluidic adhesion assay, cell binding to activated brain endothelium significantly increased compared with VLA-4-naive control cells (71.5 cells per field of view ± 11.7 vs 36.4 cells per field of view 6 3.3, respectively; P < .05). Real-time quantitative in vivo MR cell tracking revealed that VLA-4-expressing cells docked exclusively within the vascular bed of the ipsilateral carotid artery and that VLA-4-expressing cells exhibited significantly enhanced homing as compared with VLA-4-naive cells (1448 significant pixels ± 366.5 vs 113.3 significant pixels ± 19.88, respectively; P < .05). Furthermore, MR cell tracking was crucial for correct cell delivery and proper ligation of specific arteries. Conclusion: Targeted intraarterial delivery and homing of VLA-4-expressing hGPs to inflamed endothelium is feasible and can be monitored in real time by using MR imaging in a quantitative, dynamic manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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