Noninvasive Monitoring of the Mitochondrial Function in Mesenchymal Stromal Cells

Federico Franchi, Karen M. Peterson, Ramasamy Paulmurugan, Clifford Folmes, Ian R. Lanza, Amir Lerman, Martin Rodriguez-Porcel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Mitochondria are a gatekeeper of cell survival and mitochondrial function can be used to monitor cell stress. Here we validate a pathway-specific reporter gene to noninvasively image the mitochondrial function of stem cells. Procedures: We constructed a mitochondrial sensor with the firefly luciferase (Fluc) reporter gene driven by the NQO1 enzyme promoter. The sensor was introduced in stem cells and validated in vitro and in vivo, in a mouse model of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (IR). Results: The sensor activity showed an inverse relationship with mitochondrial function (R2 = −0.975, p = 0.025) and showed specificity and sensitivity for mitochondrial dysfunction. In vivo, NQO1-Fluc activity was significantly higher in IR animals vs. controls, indicative of mitochondrial dysfunction, and was corroborated by ex vivo luminometry. Conclusions: Reporter gene imaging allows assessment of the biology of transplanted mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), providing important information that can be used to improve the phenotype and survival of transplanted stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-518
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Imaging and Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Bioluminescence
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Mitochondrial function
  • Reporter gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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