The incidence of end stage kidney disease is rising annually and it is now a global public health problem. Current treatment options are dialysis or renal transplantation, which apart from their significant drawbacks in terms of increased morbidity and mortality, are placing an increasing economic burden on society. Cell-based Regenerative Medicine Therapies (RMTs) have shown great promise in rodent models of kidney disease, but clinical translation is hampered due to the lack of adequate safety and efficacy data. Furthermore, the mechanisms whereby the cell-based RMTs ameliorate injury are ill-defined. For instance, it is not always clear if the cells directly replace damaged renal tissue, or whether paracrine effects are more important. Knowledge of the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of cell therapies is crucial because it could lead to the development of safer and more effective RMTs in the future. To address these questions, novel in vivo imaging strategies are needed to monitor the biodistribution of cell-based RMTs and evaluate their beneficial effects on host tissues and organs, as well as any potential adverse effects. In this review we will discuss how state-of-the-art imaging modalities, including bioluminescence, magnetic resonance, nuclear imaging, ultrasound and an emerging imaging technology called multispectral optoacoustic tomography, can be used in combination with various imaging probes to track the fate and biodistribution of cell-based RMTs in rodent models of kidney disease, and evaluate their effect on renal function.
Keywords: Biodistribution; Cell tracking; Kidney function; Multispectral optoacoustic tomography; Preclinical imaging; Stem cells.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.