Intracerebral Transplantation and In Vivo Bioluminescence Tracking of Human Neural Progenitor Cells in the Mouse Brain

J Vis Exp. 2022 Jan 27;(179). doi: 10.3791/63102.


Cell therapy has long been an emerging treatment paradigm in experimental neurobiology. However, cell transplantation studies often rely on end-point measurements and can therefore only evaluate longitudinal changes of cell migration and survival to a limited extent. This paper provides a reliable, minimally invasive protocol to transplant and longitudinally track neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in the adult mouse brain. Before transplantation, cells are transduced with a lentiviral vector comprising a bioluminescent (firefly-luciferase) and fluorescent (green fluorescent protein [GFP]) reporter. The NPCs are transplanted into the right cortical hemisphere using stereotaxic injections in the sensorimotor cortex. Following transplantation, grafted cells were detected through the intact skull for up to five weeks (at days 0, 3, 14, 21, 35) with a resolution limit of 6,000 cells using in vivo bioluminescence imaging. Subsequently, the transplanted cells are identified in histological brain sections and further characterized with immunofluorescence. Thus, this protocol provides a valuable tool to transplant, track, quantify, and characterize cells in the mouse brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / surgery
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Transplantation
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neural Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins