Assessing in vitro stem-cell function and tracking engraftment of stem cells in ischaemic hearts by using novel iRFP gene labelling

Yingjie Wang, Mi Zhou, Xiaolong Wang, Gangjian Qin, Neal L. Weintraub, Yaoliang Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging by using infrared fluorescent protein (iRFP) gene labelling is a novel technology with potential value for in vivo applications. In this study, we expressed iRFP in mouse cardiac progenitor cells (CPC) by lentiviral vector and demonstrated that the iRFP-labelled CPC (CPCiRFP) can be detected by flow cytometry and fluorescent microscopy. We observed a linear correlation in vitro between cell numbers and infrared signal intensity by using the multiSpectral imaging system. CPCiRFP injected into the non-ischaemic mouse hindlimb were also readily detected by whole-animal NIRF imaging. We then compared iRFP against green fluorescent protein (GFP) for tracking survival of engrafted CPC in mouse ischaemic heart tissue. GFP-labelled CPC (CPCGFP) or CPC labelled with both iRFP and GFP (CPCiRFP GFP) were injected intramyocardially into mouse hearts after infarction. Three days after cell transplantation, a strong NIRF signal was detected in hearts into which CPCiRFP GFP, but not CPCGFP, were transplanted. Furthermore, iRFP fluorescence from engrafted CPCiRFP GFP was detected in tissue sections by confocal microscopy. In conclusion, the iRFP-labelling system provides a valuable molecular imaging tool to track the fate of transplanted progenitor cells in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1889-1894
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2014



  • Cell transplantation
  • GFP
  • IRFP
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell Biology

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