Slow turning lateral vessel bioreactor improves embryoid body formation and cardiogenic differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells.
ABSTRACT: Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) have the ability to form aggregates, which are called embryoid bodies (EBs). EBs mimic early embryonic development and are commonly produced for cardiomyogenesis. Here, we describe a method of EB formation in hydrodynamic conditions using a slow-turning lateral vessel (STLV) bioreactor and the subsequent differentiation of EBs into cardiomyocytes. EBs formed in the STLV were compared with conventional techniques, such as hanging drop (HD) or static suspension cell culture (SSC), for homogeneity of EB size, shape, proliferation, apoptosis, and in vitro cardiac differentiation. After 3 days of culture, a four-fold improvement in the yield of EB formation/mL, a six-fold enhancement in total yield of EB/mL, and a nearly 10-fold reduction of cells that failed to incorporate into EBs were achieved in STLV versus SSC. During cardiac differentiation, a 1.5- to 4.2-fold increase in the area of cardiac troponin T (cTnT) per single EB in STLV versus SSC and HD was achieved. These results demonstrate that the STLV method improves the quality and quantity of ES cells to form EBs and enhances the efficiency of cardiac differentiation. We have demonstrated that the mechanical method of cell differentiation creates different microenvironments for the cells and thus influences their lineage commitments, even when genetic origin and the culture medium are the same. Ascorbic acid (ASC) improved further cardiac commitment in differentiation assays. Hence, this culture system is suitable for the production of large numbers of cells for clinical cell replacement therapies and industrial drug testing applications.
Project description:The possibility to generate cardiomyocytes from pluripotent stem cells in vitro has enormous significance for basic research, disease modeling, drug development and heart repair. The concept of heart muscle reconstruction has been studied and optimized in the rat model using rat primary cardiovascular cells or xenogeneic pluripotent stem cell derived-cardiomyocytes for years. However, the lack of rat pluripotent stem cells (rPSCs) and their cardiovascular derivatives prevented the establishment of an authentic clinically relevant syngeneic or allogeneic rat heart regeneration model. In this study, we comparatively explored the potential of recently available rat embryonic stem cells (rESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (riPSCs) as a source for cardiomyocytes (CMs). We developed feeder cell-free culture conditions facilitating the expansion of undifferentiated rPSCs and initiated cardiac differentiation by embryoid body (EB)-formation in agarose microwell arrays, which substituted the robust but labor-intensive hanging drop (HD) method. Ascorbic acid was identified as an efficient enhancer of cardiac differentiation in both rPSC types by significantly increasing the number of beating EBs (3.6 ± 1.6-fold for rESCs and 17.6 ± 3.2-fold for riPSCs). These optimizations resulted in a differentiation efficiency of up to 20% cTnTpos rPSC-derived CMs. CMs showed spontaneous contractions, expressed cardiac markers and had typical morphological features. Electrophysiology of riPSC-CMs revealed different cardiac subtypes and physiological responses to cardio-active drugs. In conclusion, we describe rPSCs as a robust source of CMs, which is a prerequisite for detailed preclinical studies of myocardial reconstruction in a physiologically and immunologically relevant small animal model.
Project description:Pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are capable of differentiating into all mesoderm-derived cell lineages, including endothelial, hematopoietic, and cardiac cell types. Common strategies to direct mesoderm differentiation of ESCs rely on exposing the cells to a series of biochemical and biophysical cues at different stages of differentiation to promote maturation toward specific cell phenotypes. Shear forces that mimic cardiovascular physiological forces can evoke a myriad of responses in somatic and stem cell populations, and have, thus, been studied as a means to direct stem cell differentiation. However, elucidating the effects of shear pre-conditioning on the subsequent vascular differentiation and morphogenesis of ESCs has yet to be examined. In this study, ESC monolayers were subjected to physiological shear (5?dyn/cm(2)) or static conditions for 2 days on collagen IV-coated substrates before initiating embryoid body (EB) differentiation. Immediately after the pre-conditioning period, shear pre-conditioned and statically cultured ESCs exhibited similar morphologies and largely retained a pluripotent phenotype; however, ESCs exposed to fluid shear expressed increased levels of endothelial marker genes Flk-1 (?3-fold), VE-cadherin (?3-fold), and PECAM (?2-fold), compared with statically cultured ESCs. After 7 days of EB culture, ?70% of EBs formed from shear pre-conditioned ESCs expressed significantly higher levels of endothelial marker genes compared with EBs formed from statically cultured ESCs. Interestingly, unlike EBs formed from statically cultured ESCs, EBs formed from fluid shear stress pre-conditioned ESCs exhibited a centrally localized region of VE-cadherin(+) cells that persisted for at least 10 days of differentiation. These results demonstrate that fluid shear stress pre-conditioning not only promotes ESC endothelial gene expression but also subsequently impacts the organization of endothelial cells within EBs. Together, these studies highlight a novel approach to promote in vitro morphogenesis of developmental vasculogenic models and potentially promote pre-vascularization of tissue-engineered constructs derived from pluripotent stem cells.
Project description:One approach to cell differentiation is to use the natural capacity of pluripotent stem cells to form three germ layers via embryoid bodies (EB). However, unification of this process during in vitro culture remains challenging and many microenvironmental factors including the number of cells in the culture can influence differentiation patterns. The number of cells serves a crucial role as it determines access to nutrients, the distribution of oxygen concentration and cellular interactions, all of which influence the fate of the differentiated cells. The influence of EBs derived from human pluripotent cells on the chondrogenic potential of such cells is not well understood. For this reason, the present study sought to determine the effect of varying amounts of cells on the properties of EBs derived from human embryonic stem cells (BG01V cell line). In the present study, 500?2,000 cells per well were cultivated from 5 to 15 days in suspension cell culture. Expression of pluripotency genes and germ layer markers were evaluated in order to determine the EBs with the greatest and least mesodermal properties. Genes associated with pluripotency and chondrogenesis were also evaluated to assess the influence of suspension culture duration and EB size on chondrogenic differentiation. Immunofluorescence staining for pluripotent and chondrocyte?associated proteins confirmed successful differentiation into chondrocyte?like cells. Alcian blue staining confirmed deposition of proteoglycans. These results suggested that EBs formed in 500?cell wells possess the highest mesodermal and prochondrogenic properties. Differentiation of EBs into chondrocytes on day 5 in 500?cell wells was more efficient than in that observed in larger and older EBs.
Project description:Stem cells are promising cell source for treatment of multiple diseases as well as myocardial infarction. Rabbit model has essentially used for cardiovascular diseases and regeneration but information on establishment of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and differentiation potential is fairly limited. In addition, there is no report of cardiac differentiation from iPSCs in the rabbit model. In this study, we generated rabbit iPSCs by reprogramming rabbit fibroblasts using the 4 transcription factors (OCT3/4, SOX2, KLF4, and c-Myc). Three iPSC lines were established. The iPSCs from all cell lines expressed genes (OCT3/4, SOX2, KLF4 and NANOG) and proteins (alkaline phosphatase, OCT-3/4 and SSEA-4) essentially described for pluripotency (in vivo and in vitro differentiation). Furthermore, they also had ability to form embryoid body (EB) resulting in three-germ layer differentiation. However, ability of particular cell lines and cell numbers at seeding markedly influenced on EB formation and also their diameters. The cell density at 20,000 cells per EB was selected for cardiac differentiation. After plating, the EBs attached and cardiac-like beating areas were seen as soon as 11 days of culture. The differentiated cells expressed cardiac progenitor marker FLK1 (51 ± 1.48%) on day 5 and cardiac troponin-T protein (10.29 ± 1.37%) on day 14. Other cardiac marker genes (cardiac ryanodine receptors (RYR2), α-actinin and PECAM1) were also expressed. This study concluded that rabbit iPSCs remained their in vitro pluripotency with capability of differentiation into mature-phenotype cardiomyocytes. However, the efficiency of cardiac differentiation is still restricted.
Project description:Endothelial cells (ECs) represent the major component of the embryonic pancreatic niche and play a key role in the differentiation of insulin-producing ? cells in vivo. However, it is unknown if ECs promote such differentiation in vitro. We investigated whether interaction of ECs with mouse embryoid bodies (EBs) in culture promotes differentiation of pancreatic progenitors and insulin-producing cells and the mechanisms involved. We developed a co-culture system of mouse EBs and human microvascular ECs (HMECs). An increase in the expression of the pancreatic markers PDX-1, Ngn3, Nkx6.1, proinsulin, GLUT-2, and Ptf1a was observed at the interface between EBs and ECs (EB-EC). No expression of these markers was found at the periphery of EBs cultured without ECs or those co-cultured with mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). At EB-EC interface, proinsulin and Nkx6.1 positive cells co-expressed phospho-Smad1/5/8 (pSmad1/5/8). Therefore, EBs were treated with HMEC conditioned media (HMEC-CM) suspecting soluble factors involved in bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway activation. Upregulation of PDX-1, Ngn3, Nkx6.1, insulin-1, insulin-2, amylin, SUR1, GKS, and amylase as well as down-regulation of SST were detected in treated EBs. In addition, higher expression of BMP-2/-4 and their receptor (BMPR1A) were also found in these EBs. Recombinant human BMP-2 (rhBMP-2) mimicked the effects of the HMEC-CM on EBs. Noggin (NOG), a BMP antagonist, partially inhibited these effects. These results indicate that the differentiation of EBs to pancreatic progenitors and insulin-producing cells can be enhanced by ECs in vitro and that BMP pathway activation is central to this process.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Understanding the mechanisms controlling stem cell differentiation is the key to future advances in tissue and organ regeneration. Embryonic stem (ES) cell differentiation can be triggered by embryoid body (EB) formation, which involves ES cell aggregation in suspension. EB growth in the absence of leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) leads EBs to mimic early embryonic development, giving rise to markers representative of endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm. Here, we have used microarrays to investigate differences in gene expression between 3 undifferentiated ES cell lines, and also between undifferentiated ES cells and Day 1-4 EBs. RESULTS: An initial array study identified 4 gene expression changes between 3 undifferentiated ES cell lines. Tissue culture conditions for ES differentiation were then optimized to give the maximum range of gene expression and growth. -Undifferentiated ES cells and EBs cultured with and without LIF at each day for 4 days were subjected to microarray analysis. -Differential expression of 23 genes was identified. 13 of these were also differentially regulated in a separate array comparison between undifferentiated ES cells and compartments of very early embryos. A high degree of inter-replicate variability was noted when confirming array results. Using a panel of marker genes, RNA amplification and RT-PCR, we examined expression pattern variation between individual -D4-Lif EBs. We found that individual EBs selected from the same dish were highly variable in gene expression profile. CONCLUSION: ES cell lines derived from different mouse strains and carrying different genetic modifications are almost invariant in gene expression profile under conditions used to maintain pluripotency. Tissue culture conditions that give the widest range of gene expression and maximise EB growth involve the use of 20% serum and starting cell numbers of 1000 per EB. 23 genes of importance to early development have been identified; more than half of these are also identified using similar studies, thus validating our results. EBs cultured in the same dish vary widely in terms of their gene expression (and hence, undoubtedly, in their future differentiation potential). This may explain some of the inherent variability in differentiation protocols that use EBs.
Project description:Recent advances in stem cell research have demonstrated the importance of microenvironmental cues in directing stem cell fate towards specific cell lineages. For instance, the size of the embryoid body (EB) was shown to play a role in stem cell differentiation. Other studies have used cell adhesive RGD peptides to direct stem cell fate towards endothelial cells. In this study, materials and cell-based approaches are combined by using microwell arrays to produce size-controlled EBs and encapsulating the resulting aggregates in high molecular weight PEG-4 arm acrylate with and without conjugated RGD to study their effect on stem cell differentiation in a 3D microenvironment. Increasing EB size is observed along with a decrease in the total number of EBs in pristine PEG hydrogel, regardless of the initial EB size. In correlation with this aggregation, EBs in PEG show enhanced cardiogenic differentiation compared to RGD-PEG hydrogel. Both aggregation and cardiogenic differentiation are significantly reduced when RGD peptides are introduced to the microenvironment, while endothelial cell differentiation is accelerated by 3 to 5 days, depending on the EB size, and doubled over the course of cell culture for both EB sizes. Presented results indicate that RGD sequence has a dominant effect in driving endothelial cell differentiation in size-controlled EBs, while pristine multi-arm, high molecular weight PEG can induce cardiogenic differentiation, possibly through EB aggregation. The photopatternable nature of the hydrogel used in this study enabled patterning of such domains devoid or abundant of cell attachment sequences. Therefore, these hydrogels can potentially be used for spatially patterned embryonic stem cell differentiation, which may be beneficial for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.
Project description:Recently, various approaches for controlling the embryonic stem (ES) cell microenvironment have been developed for regulating cellular fate decisions. It has been reported that the lineage specific differentiation could be affected by the size of ES cell colonies and embryoid bodies (EBs). However, much of the underlying biology has not been well elucidated. In this study, we used microengineered hydrogel microwells to direct ES cell differentiation and determined the role of WNT signaling pathway in directing the differentiation. This was accomplished by forming ES cell aggregates within microwells to form different size EBs. We determined that cardiogenesis was enhanced in larger EBs (450 microm in diameter), and in contrast, endothelial cell differentiation was increased in smaller EBs (150 microm in diameter). Furthermore, we demonstrated that the EB-size mediated differentiation was driven by differential expression of WNTs, particularly noncanonical WNT pathway, according to EB size. The higher expression of WNT5a in smaller EBs enhanced endothelial cell differentiation. In contrast, the increased expression of WNT11 enhanced cardiogenesis. This was further validated by WNT5a-siRNA transfection assay and the addition of recombinant WNT5a. Our data suggest that EB size could be an important parameter in ES cell fate specification via differential gene expression of members of the noncanonical WNT pathway. Given the size-dependent response of EBs to differentiate to endothelial and cardiac lineages, hydrogel microwell arrays could be useful for directing stem cell fates and studying ES cell differentiation in a controlled manner.
Project description:Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have been derived from the inner cell mass cells of blastocysts (embryonic stem cells) and primordial germ cells of the developing gonadal ridge (embryonic germ cells). Like their mouse counterparts, hPSCs can be maintained in culture in an undifferentiated state and, upon differentiation, generate a wide variety of cell types. Embryoid body (EB) formation is a requisite step in the process of in vitro differentiation of these stem cells and has been used to derive neurons and glia, vascular endothelium, hematopoietic cells, cardiomyocytes, and glucose-responsive insulin-producing cells from mouse PSCs. EBs generated from human embryonic germ cell cultures have also been found to contain a wide variety of cell types, including neural cells, vascular endothelium, muscle cells, and endodermal derivatives. Here, we report the isolation and culture of cells from human EBs as well as a characterization of their gene expression during growth in several different culture environments. These heterogeneous cell cultures are capable of robust and long-term [>70 population doublings (PD)] proliferation in culture, have normal karyotypes, and can be cryopreserved, clonally isolated, and stably transfected. Cell cultures and clonal lines retain a broad pattern of gene expression including simultaneous expression of markers normally associated with cells of neural, vascular/hematopoietic, muscle, and endoderm lineages. The growth and expression characteristics of these EB-derived cells suggest that they are relatively uncommitted precursor or progenitor cells. EB-derived cells may be suited to studies of human cell differentiation and may play a role in future transplantation therapies.
Project description:Notch signaling is involved in several cell lineage determination processes during embryonic development. Recently, we have shown that Sox9 is most likely a primary target gene of Notch1 signaling in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). By using our in vitro differentiation protocol for chondrogenesis from ESCs through embryoid bodies (EBs) together with our tamoxifen-inducible system to activate Notch1, we analyzed the function of Notch signaling and its induction of Sox9 during EB differentiation towards the chondrogenic lineage. Temporary activation of Notch1 during early stages of EB, when lineage determination occurs, was accompanied by rapid and transient Sox9 upregulation and resulted in induction of chondrogenic differentiation during later stages of EB cultivation. Using siRNA targeting Sox9, we knocked down and adjusted this early Notch1-induced Sox9 expression peak to non-induced levels, which led to reversion of Notch1-induced chondrogenic differentiation. In contrast, continuous Notch1 activation during EB cultivation resulted in complete inhibition of chondrogenic differentiation. Furthermore, a reduction and delay of cardiac differentiation observed in EBs after early Notch1 activation was not reversed by siRNA-mediated Sox9 knockdown. Our data indicate that Notch1 signaling has an important role during early stages of chondrogenic lineage determination by regulation of Sox9 expression.