Molecular imaging permits non-invasive visualization and measurement of molecular and cell biology in living subjects, thereby complementing conventional anatomical imaging. Herein, we review the emerging application of molecular imaging for the study of musculoskeletal biology. Utilizing mainly bioluminescence and fluorescence techniques, molecular imaging has enabled in-vivo studies of (i) the activity of osteoblasts, osteoclasts, and hormones, (ii) the mechanisms of pathological cartilage and bone destruction, (iii) skeletal gene and cell therapy with and without biomaterial support, and (iv) the cellular processes in osteolysis and osteomyelitis. In these applications, musculoskeletal molecular imaging demonstrated feasibility for research in a myriad of musculoskeletal conditions ranging from bone fracture and arthritis to skeletal cancer. Importantly, these advances herald great potential for innovative clinical imaging in orthopedics, rheumatology, and oncology.
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