Page 5Download full-text
ABSTRACT The goal of the present investigation was to test whether quantitative magnetization transfer imaging can be used as a noninvasive evaluation method for engineered cartilage. In this work, we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor the chondrogenesis of stem-cell-based engineered tissue over a 3-week period by measuring on a pixel-by-pixel basis the relaxation times (T₁ and T₂), the apparent diffusion coefficient, and the magnetization transfer parameters: bound proton fraction and cross-relaxation rate (k). Tissue-engineered constructs for generating cartilage were created by seeding mesenchymal stem cells in a gelatin sponge. Every 7 days, tissue samples were analyzed using MRI, histological, and biochemical methods. The MRI measurements were verified by histological analysis, and the imaging data were correlated with biochemical analysis of the developing cartilage matrix for glycosaminoglycan content. The MRI analysis for bound proton fraction and k showed a statistically significant increase that was correlated with the increase of glycosaminoglycan (R = 0.96 and 0.87, respectively, p < 0.05), whereas T₁, T₂, and apparent diffusion coefficient results did not show any significant changes over the 3-week measurement period.