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Table 1 A comparison of methods used to analyse MSC biodistribution patterns in animal models

From: Modulating the distribution and fate of exogenously delivered MSCs to enhance therapeutic potential: knowns and unknowns

MethodUsed clinicallyTerminal/post-mortemSingle-cell resolutionBenefitsLimitations
MRI/CTXXGood anatomical structure, unlimited depth, can be used with PET/SPECTPoor distinction between probe and air, possibility of free probe, expensive, low sensitivity
PETXXHigh resolution, unlimited depthExpensive, shorter half-life of probe, no anatomical data, radiation exposure
SPECTXXInexpensive, longer-lived probe, unlimited depthLow resolution, no anatomical data, radiation exposure
BLIXXCan distinguish live/dead cells, inexpensive, high sensitivityPoor tissue penetration, single-cell distinction not possible
PCRXHighly specific, widely availableLimited observational area, cannot distinguish live/dead, detects genetic material only
HistologyAccessible technique, high-quality images obtained, can demonstrate cell viability, interactions, molecular changesCannot account for changes during processing, limited observational area. Requires biopsy/post-mortem samples
Intravital microscopyXHighly sensitive, allows observation at micrometre scale, phenotypical and morphological cell changes observableHighly invasive, requires specialised techniques/equipment, limited observational area