Hepatocyte transplantation is useful for ex vivo gene therapy and liver repopulation. Methods for hepatic reconstitution have recently been developed but optimization of hepatocyte transplantation systems is necessary. To develop systems for noninvasive assessment of the biodistribution of transplanted cells, we labeled hepatocytes with 111indium‐oxine. Our initial studies showed that hepatocytes incorporated 111indium‐oxine with an efficiency of approximately 20%. After labeling, cell viability was unchanged and 111indium was present in hepatocytes after overnight culture, as well as after intrasplenic transplantation. Transplanted cells were successfully localized by means of scintigraphic imaging. The scintigraphic patterns of cell distribution were different when hepatocytes were transplanted by means of either spleen or internal jugular vein, which deposit cells into separate vascular beds. Quantitative analysis of the biodistribution of 111indium‐labeled hepatocytes indicated that within 2 hr of intrasplenic transplantation, cells were predominantly localized in liver and spleen, and occasionally in lungs. To determine whether the rate of intrasplenic cell injection influenced translocation of hepatocytes, we transplanted cells in normal rats. Despite intrasplenic cell injection at a variety of rates, organ‐specific distribution of 111indium‐labeled hepatocytes remained unchanged. Labeling with 111indium did not affect long‐term survival of transplanted hepatocytes. These results indicate that 111indium‐labeling of hepatocytes should greatly assist noninvasive analysis in the short‐term of the biodistribution of transplanted hepatocytes. (Hepatology 1994;19:750–757).
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