Cell tracking in cardiac repair: what to image and how to image
Stem cell therapies hold the great promise and interest for cardiac regeneration among scientists, clinicians and patients. However, advancement and distillation of a standard treatment regimen are not yet finalised. Into this breach step recent developments in the imaging biosciences. Thus far, these technical and protocol refinements have played a critical role not only in the evaluation of the recovery of cardiac function but also in providing important insights into the mechanism of action of stem cells. Molecular imaging, in its many forms, has rapidly become a necessary tool for the validation and optimisation of stem cell engrafting strategies in preclinical studies. These include a suite of radionuclide, magnetic resonance and optical imaging strategies to evaluate non-invasively the fate of transplanted cells. In this review, we highlight the state-of-the-art of the various imaging techniques for cardiac stem cell presenting the strengths and limitations of each approach, with a particular focus on clinical applicability.