Inema Orukari1,2, Mike Gorelik3, Joann Wang3, Shashikala Galpoththawela1, Heechul Kim1, Douglas A. Kerr4, Michael Levy5, Andre Levchenko3, Jeff Bulte1, Piotr Walczak1
1Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology & Radiological Science, Division of MR Research, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA; 2 Cellular Imaging Section, Vascular Biology Program, Institute for Cell Engineerin, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA; 3Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA; 4Biogen-IDEC, Cambridge, MA, USA; 5Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
Stem cells offer hope for treatment of incurable neurological diseases. Efficient systemic delivery of stem cells to brain lesions is an important but still not achieved goal. We evaluated a novel intra-arterial method for targeted stem cell delivery based on genetic engineering of cells to express VLA-4 while performing real-time in vivo MRI monitoring of cell engraftment. Using a microfluidics cell adhesion assay, we demonstrated that VLA-4+ cells preferentially adhered to activated VCAM1+ endothelium. Using a rat model, SPIO-labeled, VLA-4+ cells efficiently homed to activated brain endothelium with MRI being an excellent method to monitor this process in real-time.