Non-invasive injectable cellular therapeutic strategies based on sustained delivery of physiological levels of BMP-2 for spinal fusion are emerging as promising alternatives, which could provide sufficient fusion without the associated surgical risks. However, these injectable therapies are dependent on bone formation occurring only at the specific target region. In this study, we developed and deployed fluorescence gene reporter tomography (FGRT) to provide information on in vivo cell localization and viability. This information is sought to confirm the ideal placement of the materials with respect to the area where early bone reaction is required, ultimately providing three dimensional data about the future fusion. However, because almost all conventional fluorescence gene reporters require visible excitation wavelengths, current in vivo imaging of fluorescent proteins is limited by high tissue absorption and confounding autofluorescence. We previously administered fibroblasts engineered to produce BMP-2, but is difficult to determine 3-D information of placement prior to bone formation. Herein we used the far-red fluorescence gene reporter, IFP1.4 to report the position and viability of fibroblasts and developed 3-D tomography to provide placement information. A custom small animal, far-red fluorescence tomography system integrated into a commercial CT scanner was used to assess IFP1.4 fluorescence and to demark 3-D placement of encapsulated fibroblasts with respect to the vertebrae and early bone formation as assessed from CT. The results from three experiments showed that the placement of the materials within the spine could be detected. This work shows that in vivo fluorescence gene reporter tomography of cell-based gene therapy is feasible and could help guide cell-based therapies in preclinical models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics