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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016, Article ID 4058656, 8 pages
Review Article

Molecular Imaging of Stem Cell Transplantation for Liver Diseases: Monitoring, Clinical Translation, and Theranostics

1Molecular Imaging Laboratory, MGH/MIT/HMS Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02129, USA
2Department of Thoracic Surgery, European Institute of Oncology, Via Ripamonti 435, 20141 Milan, Italy
3Postgraduation School in Radiodiagnostics, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Festa del Perdono 7, 20122 Milan, Italy
4Department of Radiology, European Institute of Oncology, Via Ripamonti 435, 20141 Milan, Italy
5Department of Oncology, University of Milan, Via Festa del Perdono 7, 20142 Milan, Italy

Received 26 September 2016; Accepted 1 November 2016

Academic Editor: Gary E. Lyons

Copyright © 2016 Ping Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Stem cell transplantation has been investigated to rescue experimental liver failure and is promising to offer an alternative therapy to liver transplantation for liver diseases treatment. Several clinical studies in this field have been carried out, but the therapeutic benefit of this treatment is still controversial. A major obstacle to developing stem cell therapies in clinic is being able to visualize the cells in vivo. Imaging modalities allow optimization of delivery, detecting cell survival and functionality by in vivo monitoring these transplanted graft cells. Moreover, theranostic imaging is a brand new field that utilizes nanometer-scale materials to glean diagnostic insight for simultaneous treatment, which is very promising to improve stem cell-based therapy for treatment of liver diseases. The aim of this review was to summarize the various imaging tools that have been explored with advanced molecular imaging probes. We also outline some recent progress of preclinical and clinical studies of liver stem cells transplantation. Finally, we discuss theranostic imaging for stem cells transplantation for liver dysfunction and future opportunities afforded by theranostic imaging.