In this study, we sought to label mouse bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) with Resovist® in vitro and to image them using 7.0 Tesla (T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Mouse bone marrow-derived EPCs were cultured in endothelial basal medium with endothelial growth supplement. They were then characterized by immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry, and fluorescence quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Their functions were evaluated by measuring their uptake of 1,1-dioctadecyl-3,3,3,3-tetramethylindocarbocyanine-labeled acetylated low-density lipoprotein (Dil-Ac-LDL), binding of fluorine isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled Ulex europaeus agglutinin (UEA), and formation of capillary-like networks. EPCs were labeled with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) and their proliferation was then assessed in a water-soluble tetrazolium (WST-8)-based cell proliferation assay. Spin echo sequence (multislice, multiecho [MSME]) and gradient echo sequence (2D-FLASH) were used to detect differences in the numbers of labeled cells by 7.0 T MRI. The results showed that the cultured cells were of “cobblestone”-like shape and positive for CD133, CD34, CD31, von Willebrand factor, kinase domain receptor, and CD45, but negative for F4/80. They could take up Dil-Ac-LDL, bind FITC-UEA, and form capillary-like networks on Matrigel in vitro. Prussian-blue staining demonstrated that the cells were efficiently labeled with SPIO. The single-cell T2* effect was more obvious in the 2D-FLASH sequence than in the MSME sequence. Further, there were almost no adverse effects on cell vitality and proliferation. In conclusion, mouse bone marrow-derived EPCs can be efficiently labeled with SPIO and imaged with 7.0-T MRI. They may thus be traced by MRI following transplantation for blood vessel disorders and cancer treatment
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