In vivo visualization of transplanted an creatic islets by MRI: Comparison between in vivo, histological and electron microscopy findings
The aim of the work was to compare in vivo MRI visualization of pancreatic islets labeled with clinical-grade superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIOs) contrast agents with ex vivo examination of liver tissue in an experimental model of marginal mass transplantation in rats. Seven hundred IEq (Islet Equivalent) from Wistar rats, labeled by incubation with Endorem or Resovist, were transplanted into Sprague-Dawley rats through the portal vein. Liver MR images of recipient rats were acquired at different time points (3-42 days) after transplantation. Animals were sacrificed during this period and their livers were excised and prepared for histology and electron microscopy. Hypointense spots originating from iron particles were observed in MR images. The number of separate spots was counted. Three days after transplantation one spot for every three or four transplanted islets was observed. Seven days after transplantation, histological sections showed the presence of iron within pancreatic islets. The time course of MR images showed a decrease in the number of spots, at 42 days, amounting to 65 and 22% of the initial value, for Resovist and Endorem respectively, while no immunopositive endocrine cells were detected in histological slices. The present work shows that pancreatic islets can be labeled using clinically approved SPIO contrast agents and visualized using in vivo MRI with high sensitivity, consistently with findings in the literature. Differently from reports in the literature, our findings indicate that iron particles could last in the liver for long periods, independently of the presence of intact pancreatic islets.