Molecular imaging of stem cells: Tracking Survival, biodistribution, tu-morigenicity, and immunogenicity

Eugene Gu, Wen Yi Chen, Jay Gu, Paul Burridge, Joseph C. Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Being able to self-renew and differentiate into virtually all cell types, both human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have exciting therapeutic im-plications for myocardial infarction, neurodegenerative disease, diabetes, and other disorders involving irreversible cell loss. However, stem cell biology remains incompletely understood despite significant advances in the field. Inefficient stem cell differentiation, difficulty in verifying successful delivery to the target organ, and problems with engraftment all hamper the tran-sition from laboratory animal studies to human clinical trials. Although traditional histo-pathological techniques have been the primary approach for ex vivo analysis of stem cell be-havior, these postmortem examinations are unable to further elucidate the underlying mechanisms in real time and in vivo. Fortunately, the advent of molecular imaging has led to unprecedented progress in understanding the fundamental behavior of stem cells, including their survival, biodistribution, immunogenicity, and tumorigenicity in the targeted tissues of interest. This review summarizes various molecular imaging technologies and how they have advanced the current understanding of stem cell survival, biodistribution, immunogenicity, and tumorigenicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-345
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012


  • Biodistribution
  • Immunogenicity
  • Molecular imaging
  • Stem cell therapy
  • Survival
  • Tu-morigenicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)


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