Purpose: Combining specific and quantitative F-19 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with sensitive and convenient optical imaging provides complementary information about the distribution and viability of transplanted pancreatic islet grafts. In this study, pancreatic islets (PIs) were labeled with positively charged multimodal nanoparticles based on poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA-NPs) with encapsulated perfluoro-15-crown-5-ether and the near-infrared fluorescent dye indocyanine green.
Procedures: One thousand and three thousand bioluminescent PIs were transplanted into subcutaneous artificial scaffolds, which served as an alternative transplant site. The grafts were monitored using in vivo F-19 MR, fluorescence, and bioluminescence imaging in healthy rats for 2 weeks.
Results: Transplanted PIs were unambiguously localized in the scaffolds by F-19 MRI throughout the whole experiment. Fluorescence was detected in the first 4 days after transplantation only. Importantly, in vivo bioluminescence correlated with the F-19 MRI signal.
Conclusions: We developed a trimodal imaging platform for in vivo examination of transplanted PIs. Fluorescence imaging revealed instability of the fluorescent dye and its limited applicability for longitudinal in vivo studies. A correlation between the bioluminescence signal and the F-19 MRI signal indicated the fast clearance of PLGA-NPs from the transplantation site after cell death, which addresses a major issue with intracellular imaging labels. Therefore, the proposed PLGA-NP platform is reliable for reflecting the status of transplanted PIs in vivo.
Keywords: F-19 magnetic resonance imaging; Nanoparticles; Optical imaging; Pancreatic islets; Transplantation.