Arteriosclerotic cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Therapeutic angiogenesis aims to treat ischemic myocardial and peripheral tissues by delivery of recombinant proteins, genes, or cells to promote neoangiogenesis. Concerns regarding the safety, side effects, and efficacy of protein and gene transfer studies have led to the development of cell-based therapies as alternative approaches to induce vascular regeneration and to improve function of damaged tissue. Cell-based therapies may be improved by the application of imaging technologies that allow investigators to track the location, engraftment, and survival of the administered cell population. The past decade of investigations has produced promising clinical data regarding cell therapy, but design of trials and evaluation of treatments stand to be improved by emerging insight from imaging studies. Here, we provide an overview of pre-clinical and clinical experience using cell-based therapies to promote vascular regeneration in the treatment of peripheral arterial disease. We also review four major imaging modalities and underscore the importance of in vivo analysis of cell fate for a full understanding of functional outcomes.
Keywords: Cell therapy, critical limb ischemia, imaging, peripheral arterial disease