The Myocardial Microenvironment Modulates the Biology of Transplanted Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Federico Franchi, Vidhya Ramaswamy, Michaela Olthoff, Karen M. Peterson, Ramasamy Paulmurugan, Martin Rodriguez-Porcel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The maximal efficacy of cell therapy depends on the survival of stem cells, as well as on the phenotypic and biologic changes that may occur on these cells after transplantation. It has been hypothesized that the post-ischemic myocardial microenvironment can play a critical role in these changes, potentially affecting the survival and reparative potential of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Here, we use a dual reporter gene sensor for the in vivo monitoring of the phenotype of MSCs and study their therapeutic effect on cardiac function. Procedures: The mitochondrial sensor was tested in cell culture in response to different mitochondrial stressors. For in vivo testing, MSCs (3 × 105) were delivered in a murine ischemia-reperfusion (IR) model. Bioluminescence imaging was used to assess the mitochondrial biology and the viability of transplanted MSCs, while high-resolution ultrasound provided a non-invasive analysis of cardiac contractility and dyssynchrony. Results: The mitochondrial sensor showed increased activity in response to mitochondrial stressors. Furthermore, when tested in the living subject, it showed a significant increase in mitochondrial dysfunction in MSCs delivered in IR, compared with those delivered under sham conditions. Importantly, MSCs delivered to ischemic hearts, despite their mitochondrial stress and poor survival, were able to induce a significant improvement in cardiac function, through decreased collagen deposition and resynchronization/contractility of left ventricular wall motion. Conclusions: The ischemic myocardium induces changes in the phenotype of transplanted MSCs. Despite their limited survival, MSCs still elicit a certain therapeutic response, as evidenced by improvement in myocardial remodeling and cardiac function. Maximization of the survival and reparative efficacy of stem cells remains a key for the success of stem cell therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)948-957
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Imaging and Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'The Myocardial Microenvironment Modulates the Biology of Transplanted Mesenchymal Stem Cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this