Tracking fusion of human mesenchymal stem cells after transplantation to the heart

Brian T. Freeman, Nicholas A. Kouris, Brenda M. Ogle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that transplanted mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can aid recovery of damaged myocardium caused by myocardial infarction. One possible mechanism for MSC-mediated recovery is reprogramming after cell fusion between transplanted MSCs and recipient cardiac cells. We used a Cre/LoxP-based luciferase reporter system coupled to biophotonic imaging to detect fusion of transplanted human pluripotent stem cell-derived MSCs to cells of organs of living mice. Human MSCs, with transient expression of a viral fusogen, were delivered to the murine heart via a collagen patch. At 2 days and 1 week later, living mice were probed for bioluminescence indicative of cell fusion. Cell fusion was detected at the site of delivery (heart) and in distal tissues (i.e., stomach, small intestine, liver). Fusion was confirmed at the cellular scale via fluorescence in situ hybridization for human-specific and mouse-specific centromeres. Human cells in organs distal to the heart were typically located near the vasculature, suggesting MSCs and perhaps MSC fusion products have the ability to migrate via the circulatory system to distal organs and engraft with local cells. The present study reveals previously unknown migratory patterns of delivered human MSCs and associated fusion products in the healthy murine heart. The study also sets the stage for follow-on studies to determine the functional effects of cell fusion ina model of myocardial damage or disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-694
Number of pages10
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© AlphaMed Press 2015.


  • Cardiac patch
  • Cell fusion
  • Cell transplantation
  • Cre/LoxP
  • Mesenchymal stem cells


Dive into the research topics of 'Tracking fusion of human mesenchymal stem cells after transplantation to the heart'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this