Embryonic stem (ES) cells have therapeutic potential in disorders of cellular loss such as myocardial infarction, type I diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders. ES cell biology in living subjects was largely poorly understood until incorporation of molecular imaging into the field. Reporter gene imaging works by integrating a reporter gene into ES cells and using a reporter probe to induce a signal detectable by normal imaging modalities. Reporter gene imaging allows for longitudinal tracking of ES cells within the same host for a prolonged period of time. This has advantages over postmortem immunohistochemistry and traditional imaging modalities. The advantages include expression of reporter gene is limited to viable cells, expression is conserved between generations of dividing cells, and expression can be linked to a specific population of cells. These advantages were especially useful in studying a dynamic cell population such as ES cells and proved useful in elucidating the biology of ES cells. Reporter gene imaging identified poor integration of differentiated ES cells transplanted into host tissue as well as delayed donor cell death as reasons for poor long-term survival in vivo. This imaging technology also confirmed that ES cells indeed have immunogenic properties that factor into cell survival and differentiation. Finally, reporter gene imaging improved our understanding of the neoplastic risk of undifferentiated ES cells in forming teratomas. Despite such advances, much remains to be understood about ES cell biology to translate this technology to the bedside, and reporter gene imaging will certainly play a key role in formulating this understanding.
View details for DOI 10.1007/978-1-60761-705-1_12
View details for PubMedID 20680820