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Millions of cases of bone injury or loss due to trauma, osteoporosis, and cancer occur in the United States each year. Because bone is limited in its ability to regenerate, alternative therapy approaches are needed. Bone tissue engineering has the potential to correct musculoskeletal disorders through the development of cell-based substitutes for osteogenic tissue replacement. Multiple medical imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM) were investigated recently; these techniques are able to provide useful information on the anatomical and structural changes of developing bone. However, there is a need for noninvasive approaches to evaluate biochemical constituents and consequent compositional development associated with growing osteogenic constructs. In this study, near-infrared (NIR) optical imaging with a bone-specific NIR-targeted probe, IRDye(®) 800CW BoneTag™ (800CW BT), was applied in this study to longitudinally visualize regions of mineralization of tissue-engineered bone constructs in vivo. A fluorescent cell-based assay was performed to confirm the preferential binding of 800CW BT to the mineralized matrix of differentiated osteogenically driven human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) in vitro. The hMSCs were seeded onto a biocompatible gelatin scaffold, allowed to develop, and implanted into a mouse model. Engineered constructs were examined in vivo using NIR imaging for bone mineralization, paired with MRM for verification of developing tissue. Results showed that NIR imaging with 800CW BT labeling can effectively assess the calcification of the developing osteogenic constructs, which is consistent with the analysis of excised tissue using NIR microscopy and histology. In conclusion, this study evaluated bone-like function of regenerating bone through tracking calcium deposition via NIR optical imaging with a fluorophore-labeled probe in a noninvasive manner.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.