An optical imaging method to monitor stem cell migration in a model of immune-mediated arthritis.
The objective of this work is to establish an optical imaging technique that would enable monitoring of the integration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in arthritic joints. Our approach is based on first developing a labeling technique of MSC with the fluorescent dye DiD followed by tracking the cell migration kinetics from the spatial distribution of the DiD fluorescence in optical images (OI). The experimental approach involves first the in vitro OI of MSC labeled with DiD accompanied by fluorescence microscopy measurements to establish localization of the signal within the cells. Thereafter, DiD-labeled MSC were injected into polyarthritic, athymic rats and the signal localization within the experimental animals was monitored over several days. The experimental results indicate that DiD integrated into the cell membrane. DiD-labeled MSC localization in the arthritic ankle joints was observed with OI indicating that this method can be applied to monitor MSC in arthritic joints.