Ultra short echo time MRI of iron-labelled mesenchymal stem cells in an ovine osteochondral defect model

Joshua D. Kaggie, Hareklea Markides, Martin J. Graves, James Mackay, Gavin Houston, Alicia El Haj, Fiona Gilbert, Frances Henson

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Multipotent Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells (MSCs) are widely used in cellular therapy for joint repair. However, the use of MSC therapies is complicated by a lack of understanding of the behaviour of cells and repair within the joint. Current methods of MSC tracking include labelling the cells with Super Paramagnetic Iron Oxide nanoparticles (SPIOs). However, standard acquisition sequences (T2 and T2*) give poor anatomical definition in the presence of SPIOs. To avoid anatomical compromise in the presence of SPIOs, we have investigated the use of Ultra-short Echo Time (UTE) MRI, using a 3D cones acquisition trajectory. This method was used to track SPIO labelled MSC injected into joints containing osteochondral defects in experimental sheep. This study demonstrates that multiple echo times from UTE with 3 T MRI can provide excellent anatomical detail of osteochondral defects and demonstrate similar features to histology. This work also monitors the location of SPIO-labelled cells for regenerative medicine of the knee with MRI, histology, and Prussian blue staining. With these methods, we show that the SPIOs do not hone to the site of defect but instead aggregate in the location of injection, which suggests that any repair mechanism with this disease model must trigger a secondary process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8451
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2020

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