Illuminating the Regenerative Properties of Stem Cells In Vivo with Bioluminescence Imaging

Sean D. Madsen, Margaret K. Giler, Bruce A. Bunnell, Kim C. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Preclinical animal studies are essential to the development of safe and effective stem cell therapies. Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) is a powerful tool in animal studies that enables the real-time longitudinal monitoring of stem cells in vivo to elucidate their regenerative properties. This review describes the application of BLI in preclinical stem cell research to address critical challenges in producing successful stem cell therapeutics. These challenges include stem cell survival, proliferation, homing, stress response, and differentiation. The applications presented here utilize bioluminescence to investigate a variety of stem and progenitor cells in several different in vivo models of disease and implantation. An overview of luciferase reporters is provided, along with the advantages and disadvantages of BLI. Additionally, BLI is compared to other preclinical imaging modalities and potential future applications of this technology are discussed in emerging areas of stem cell research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000248
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • cellular therapy
  • imaging
  • medical biotechnology
  • regenerative medicine
  • stem cells


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