Development and Validation of Noninvasive Magnetic Resonance Relaxometry for the In Vivo Assessment of Tissue-Engineered Graft Oxygenation

Samuel A. Einstein, Bradley P. Weegman, Meri T. Firpo, Klearchos K. Papas, Michael Garwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Techniques to monitor the oxygen partial pressure (pO2) within implanted tissue-engineered grafts (TEGs) are critically necessary for TEG development, but current methods are invasive and inaccurate. In this study, we developed an accurate and noninvasive technique to monitor TEG pO2 utilizing proton (1H) or fluorine (19F) magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) relaxometry. The value of the spin-lattice relaxation rate constant (R1) of some biocompatible compounds is sensitive to dissolved oxygen (and temperature), while insensitive to other external factors. Through this physical mechanism, MRS can measure the pO2 of implanted TEGs. We evaluated six potential MRS pO2 probes and measured their oxygen and temperature sensitivities and their intrinsic R1 values at 16.4 T. Acellular TEGs were constructed by emulsifying porcine plasma with perfluoro-15-crown-5-ether, injecting the emulsion into a macroencapsulation device, and cross-linking the plasma with a thrombin solution. A multiparametric calibration equation containing R1, pO2, and temperature was empirically generated from MRS data and validated with fiber optic (FO) probes in vitro. TEGs were then implanted in a dorsal subcutaneous pocket in a murine model and evaluated with MRS up to 29 days postimplantation. R1 measurements from the TEGs were converted to pO2 values using the established calibration equation and these in vivo pO2 measurements were simultaneously validated with FO probes. Additionally, MRS was used to detect increased pO2 within implanted TEGs that received supplemental oxygen delivery. Finally, based on a comparison of our MRS data with previously reported data, ultra-high-field (16.4 T) is shown to have an advantage for measuring hypoxia with 19F MRS. Results from this study show MRS relaxometry to be a precise, accurate, and noninvasive technique to monitor TEG pO2 in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1017
Number of pages9
JournalTissue Engineering - Part C: Methods
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, the Schott Family Foundation, the Schulze Family Foundation, JDRF 5-2013-141, and NIH grants P41 EB015894 and S10 RR025031. The authors would like to thank all members of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research for their thoughtful discussions, especially Drs. Bruce Hammer and Louis Kidder. Additional thanks to Jody Janecek, Dr. Leah Steyn, and Jessica Einstein.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • F-MRS
  • islet transplantation
  • oximetry
  • oxygen measurement
  • relaxometry
  • tissue-engineered graft


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