PloS one

Macroscopic fluorescence imaging: a novel technique to monitor retention and distribution of injected microspheres in an experimental model of ischemic heart failure.

PMID 25089764


The limited effectiveness of cardiac cell therapy has generated concern regarding its clinical relevance. Experimental studies show that cell retention and engraftment are low after injection into ischemic myocardium, which may restrict therapy effectiveness significantly. Surgical aspects and mechanical loss are suspected to be the main culprits behind this phenomenon. As current techniques of monitoring intramyocardial injections are complex and time-consuming, the aim of the study was to develop a fast and simple model to study cardiac retention and distribution following intramyocardial injections. For this purpose, our main hypothesis was that macroscopic fluorescence imaging could adequately serve as a detection method for intramyocardial injections. A total of 20 mice underwent ligation of the left anterior descending artery (LAD) for myocardial infarction. Fluorescent microspheres with cellular dimensions were used as cell surrogates. Particles (5 × 10(5)) were injected into the infarcted area of explanted resting hearts (Ex vivo myocardial injetions EVMI, n = 10) and in vivo into beating hearts (In vivo myocardial injections IVMI, n = 10). Microsphere quantification was performed by fluorescence imaging of explanted organs. Measurements were repeated after a reduction to homogenate dilutions. Cardiac microsphere retention was 2.78 × 10(5) ± 0.31 × 10(5) in the EVMI group. In the IVMI group, cardiac retention of microspheres was significantly lower (0.74 × 10(5) ± 0.18 × 10(5); p<0.05). Direct fluorescence imaging revealed venous drainage through the coronary sinus, resulting in a microsphere accumulation in the left (0.90 × 10(5) ± 0.20 × 10(5)) and the right (1.07 × 10(5) ± 0.17 × 10(5)) lung. Processing to homogenates involved further particle loss (p<0.05) in both groups. We developed a fast and simple direct fluorescence imaging method for biodistribution analysis which enabled the quantification of fluorescent microspheres after intramyocardial delivery using macroscopic fluorescence imaging. This new technique showed massive early particle loss and venous drainage into the right atrium leading to substantial accumulation of graft particles in both lungs.