Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a devastating event for which current therapies are limited. Stem cell transplantation may lead to recovery of function via different mechanisms, such as cell replacement through differentiation, stimulation of angiogenesis and support to the microenvironment. Adult hair follicle bulge-derived stem cells (HFBSCs) possess neuronal differentiation capacity, are easy to harvest and are relatively immune-privileged, which makes them potential candidates for autologous stem cell-based therapy. In this study, we apply in vivo multimodal, optical and magnetic resonance imaging techniques to investigate the behavior of mouse HFBSCs in a mouse model of TBI. HFBSCs expressed Luc2 and copGFP and were examined for their differentiation capacity in vitro. Subsequently, transduced HFBSCs, preloaded with ferumoxytol, were transplanted next to the TBI lesion (cortical region) in nude mice, 2 days after injury. Brains were fixed for immunohistochemistry 58 days after transplantation. Luc2- and copGFP-expressing, ferumoxytol-loaded HFBSCs showed adequate neuronal differentiation potential in vitro. Bioluminescence of the lesioned brain revealed survival of HFBSCs and magnetic resonance imaging identified their localization in the area of transplantation. Immunohistochemistry showed that transplanted cells stained for nestin and neurofilament protein (NF-Pan). Cells also expressed laminin and fibronectin but extracellular matrix masses were not detected. After 58 days, ferumoxytol could be detected in HFBSCs in brain tissue sections. These results show that HFBSCs are able to survive after brain transplantation and suggest that cells may undergo differentiation towards a neuronal cell lineage, which supports their potential use for cell-based therapy for TBI.

Bioluminescence imaging, Brain injury, Hair follicle bulge-derived stem cells, Magnetic resonance imaging, Stem cell treatment, Tracking,
Cell and Tissue Research
Department of Radiology

Schomann, T, Iljas, J.D. (Juvita D.), Que, I, Li, Y. (Yuedan), Suidgeest, E. (Ernst), Cruz, L.J. (Luis J.), … Mezzanotte, L. (2020). Multimodal imaging of hair follicle bulge-derived stem cells in a mouse model of traumatic brain injury. Cell and Tissue Research. doi:10.1007/s00441-020-03173-1