Stem cell-mediated accelerated bone healing observed with in vivo molecular and small animal imaging technologies in a model of skeletal injury

J Orthop Res. 2009 Mar;27(3):295-302. doi: 10.1002/jor.20736.


Adult stem cells are promising therapeutic reagents for skeletal regeneration. We hope to validate by molecular imaging technologies the in vivo life cycle of adipose-derived multipotent cells (ADMCs) in an animal model of skeletal injury. Primary ADMCs were lentivirally transfected with a fusion reporter gene and injected intravenously into mice with bone injury or sham operation. Bioluminescence imaging (BLI), [(18)F]FHBG (9-(fluoro-hydroxy-methyl-butyl-guanine)-micro-PET, [(18)F]Fluoride ion micro-PET and micro-CT were performed to monitor stem cells and their effect. Bioluminescence microscopy and immunohistochemistry were done for histological confirmation. BLI showed ADMC's traffic from the lungs then to the injury site. BLI microscopy and immunohistochemistry confirmed the ADMCs in the bone defect. Micro-CT measurements showed increased bone healing in the cell-injected group compared to the noninjected group at postoperative day 7 (p < 0.05). Systemically administered ADMC's traffic to the site of skeletal injury and facilitate bone healing, as demonstrated by molecular and small animal imaging. Molecular imaging technologies can validate the usage of adult adipose tissue-derived multipotent cells to promote fracture healing. Imaging can in the future help establish therapeutic strategies including dosage and administration route.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adult Stem Cells / diagnostic imaging
  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology
  • Adult Stem Cells / transplantation
  • Animals
  • Bone Regeneration*
  • Female
  • Femoral Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Femoral Fractures / therapy*
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Fracture Healing*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Luciferases, Firefly
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mice
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / diagnostic imaging
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / transplantation*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • X-Ray Microtomography


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • red fluorescent protein
  • Luciferases, Firefly