Glaucoma is associated with dysfunction of the trabecular meshwork (TM), a fluid drainage tissue in the anterior eye. A promising treatment involves delivery of stem cells to the TM to restore tissue function. Currently histology is the gold standard for tracking stem cell delivery and differentiation. To expedite clinical translation, non-invasive longitudinal monitoring in vivo is desired. Our current research explores a technique combining ultrasound (US) and photoacoustic (PA) imaging to track mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) after intraocular injection. Adipose-derived MSCs were incubated with gold nanospheres to label cells (AuNS-MSCs) for PA imaging. Successful labeling was first verified with in vitro phantom studies. Next, MSC delivery was imaged ex vivo in porcine eyes, while intraocular pressure was hydrostatically clamped to maintain a physiological flow rate through the TM. US/PA imaging was performed before, during, and after AuNS-MSC delivery. Additionally, spectroscopic PA imaging was implemented to isolate PA signals from AuNS-MSCs. In vitro cell imaging showed AuNS-MSCs produce strong PA signals, suggesting that MSCs can be tracked using PA imaging. While the cornea, sclera, iris, and TM region can be visualized with US imaging, pigmented tissues also produce PA signals. Both modalities provide valuable anatomical landmarks for MSC localization. During delivery, PA imaging can visualize AuNS-MSC motion and location, creating a unique opportunity to guide ocular cell delivery. Lastly, distinct spectral signatures of AuNS-MSCs allow unmixing, with potential for quantitative PA imaging. In conclusion, results show proof-of-concept for monitoring MSC ocular delivery, raising opportunities for in vivo image-guided cell delivery.
Kelsey Kubelick, Eric Snider, Heechul Yoon, C. Ross Ethier, and Stanislav Y. Emelianov, "Ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging to monitor ocular stem cell delivery and tissue regeneration (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10064, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2017, 100640K (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 29, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2254993.5379284469001.
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