Primed 3D injectable microniches enabling low-dosage cell therapy for critical limb ischemia.
ABSTRACT: The promise of cell therapy for repair and restoration of damaged tissues or organs relies on administration of large dose of cells whose healing benefits are still limited and sometimes irreproducible due to uncontrollable cell loss and death at lesion sites. Using a large amount of therapeutic cells increases the costs for cell processing and the risks of side effects. Optimal cell delivery strategies are therefore in urgent need to enhance the specificity, efficacy, and reproducibility of cell therapy leading to minimized cell dosage and side effects. Here, we addressed this unmet need by developing injectable 3D microscale cellular niches (microniches) based on biodegradable gelatin microcryogels (GMs). The microniches are constituted by in vitro priming human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) seeded within GMs resulting in tissue-like ensembles with enriched extracellular matrices and enhanced cell-cell interactions. The primed 3D microniches facilitated cell protection from mechanical insults during injection and in vivo cell retention, survival, and ultimate therapeutic functions in treatment of critical limb ischemia (CLI) in mouse models compared with free cell-based therapy. In particular, 3D microniche-based therapy with 10(5) hMSCs realized better ischemic limb salvage than treatment with 10(6) free-injected hMSCs, the minimum dosage with therapeutic effects for treating CLI in literature. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first convincing demonstration of injectable and primed cell delivery strategy realizing superior therapeutic efficacy for treating CLI with the lowest cell dosage in mouse models. This study offers a widely applicable cell delivery platform technology to boost the healing power of cell regenerative therapy.
Project description:Geometrical cues have been shown to alter gene expression and differentiation on 2D substrates. However, little is known about how geometrical cues affect cell function in 3D. One major reason for this lack of understanding is rooted in the difficulties of controlling cell geometry in a complex 3D setting and for long periods of culture. Here, we present a robust method to control cell volume and shape of individual human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) inside 3D microniches with a range of different geometries (e.g., cylinder, triangular prism, cubic, and cuboid). We find that the actin filaments, focal adhesions, nuclear shape, YAP/TAZ localization, cell contractility, nuclear accumulation of histone deacetylase 3, and lineage selection are all sensitive to cell volume. Our 3D microniches enable fundamental studies on the impact of biophysical cues on cell fate, and have potential applications in investigating how multicellular architectures organize within geometrically well-defined 3D spaces.
Project description:The central question addressed in this study is whether cells with different sizes have different responses to matrix stiffness. We used methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) hydrogels as the matrix to prepare an in vitro 3D microniche in which the single stem cell volume and matrix stiffness can be altered independently from each other. This simple approach enabled us to decouple the effects of matrix stiffness and cell volume in 3D microenvironments. Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) were cultured in individual 3D microniches with different volumes (2800, 3600, and 6000 ?m3) and stiffnesses (5, 12, and 23 kPa). We demonstrated that cell volume affected the cellular response to matrix stiffness. When cells had an optimal volume, cells could form clear stress fibers and focal adhesions on soft, intermediate, or stiff matrix. In small cells, stress fiber formation and YAP/TAZ localization were not affected by stiffness. This study highlights the importance of considering cellular volume and substrate stiffness as important cues governing cell-matrix interactions.
Project description:Single cell-laden three-dimensional (3D) microgels that can serve to mimic stem cell niches in vitro, and are therefore termed microniches, can be efficiently fabricated by droplet-based microfluidics. In this technique an aqueous polymer solution along with a highly diluted cell solution is injected into a microfluidic device to create monodisperse pre-microgel droplets that are then solidified by a polymer crosslinking reaction to obtain monodisperse single cell-laden microniches. However, problems limiting this approach studying the fate of single cells include Poisson encapsulation statistics that result in mostly empty microniches, and cells egressing from the microniches during subsequent cell culture. Here, we present a strategy to bypass Poisson encapsulation statistics in synthetic microniches by selective crosslinking of only cell-laden pre-microgel droplets. Furthermore, we show that we can position cells in the center of the microniches, and that even in protease-sensitive microniches this greatly reduces cell egress. Collectively, we present the development of a versatile protocol that allows for unprecedented efficiency in creation of synthetic protease-sensitive microniches for probing single stem cell fate in 3D.
Project description:Human mesenchymal/stromal stem cells (hMSC) are the most promising cell source for adult cell therapies in regenerative medicine. Many clinical trials have reported the use of autologous transplantation of hMSCs in several disorders, but with limited results. To exert their potential, hMSCs could exhibit efficient homing and migration toward lesion sites among other effects, but the underlying process is not clear enough. To further increase the knowledge, we studied the co-regulation between hypoxia-regulated genes and miRNAs. To this end, we investigated the miRNA expression profile of healthy hMSCs in low oxygen/nutrient conditions to mimic ischemia and compared with cells of patients suffering from critical limb ischemia (CLI). miRNAs are small, highly conserved, non-coding RNAs, skilled in the control of the target's expression level in a fine-tuned way. After analyzing the miRNOme in CLI-derived hMSC cells and healthy controls, and intersecting the results with the mRNA expression dataset under hypoxic conditions, we identified two miRNAs potentially relevant to the disease: miR-29b as a pathological marker of the disease and miR-638 as a therapeutic target. This study yielded a deeper understanding of stem cell biology and ischemic disorders, opening new potential treatments in the future.
Project description:Therapeutic factors secreted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) promote angiogenesis in vivo. However, delivery of MSCs in the absence of a cytoprotective environment offers limited efficacy due to low cell retention, poor graft survival, and the nonmaintenance of a physiologically relevant dose of growth factors at the injury site. The delivery of stem cells on an extracellular matrix (ECM)-based platform alters cell behavior, including migration, proliferation, and paracrine activity, which are essential for angiogenesis. We demonstrate the biophysical and biochemical effects of preconditioning human MSCs (hMSCs) for 96 h on a three-dimensional (3D) ECM-based microgel platform. By altering the macromolecular concentration surrounding cells in the microgels, the proangiogenic phenotype of hMSCs can be tuned in a controlled manner through cell-driven changes in extracellular stiffness and "outside-in" integrin signaling. The softest microgels were tested at a low cell dose (5 × 104 cells) in a preclinical hindlimb ischemia model showing accelerated formation of new blood vessels with a reduced inflammatory response impeding progression of tissue damage. Molecular analysis revealed that several key mediators of angiogenesis were up-regulated in the low-cell-dose microgel group, providing a mechanistic insight of pathways modulated in vivo. Our research adds to current knowledge in cell-encapsulation strategies by highlighting the importance of preconditioning or priming the capacity of biomaterials through cell-material interactions. Obtaining therapeutic efficacy at a low cell dose in the microgel platform is a promising clinical route that would aid faster tissue repair and reperfusion in "no-option" patients suffering from peripheral arterial diseases, such as critical limb ischemia (CLI).
Project description:The long-term goal of this work is to develop a potassium (K+)-based intra-articular (IA) injection for osteoarthritis treatment. Within this context, the objectives of this study were to (1) demonstrate that hyperosmolar K+ solutions can suppress proinflammatory macrophage activation and (2) evaluate the therapeutic potential of a hyperosmolar K+ solution relative to a clinically utilized drug-based (methylprednisolone acetate [MPA]-a corticosteroid) or cell-based (human mesenchymal stem cell [hMSC]) IA injectable. A 3D in vitro model with poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogels encapsulated with proinflammatory interferon-gamma (IFN)-stimulated macrophages (M(IFN)s) was utilized. Long-term changes in cell phenotype in response to short-term stimulation (i.e., mimicking an IA injection) were assessed following treatment with 80 mM K+ gluconate, hMSCs, or MPA. Addition of 80 mM K+ gluconate to culture media significantly reduced iNOS and TNF protein levels in M(IFN)s. Furthermore, short-term stimulation with K+ gluconate elicited a significant increase in the anti/proinflammatory cytokine profile in M(IFN)s, a response that is not noticed with either clinically utilized MPA or an hMSC injectable. Hyperosmolar K+ solutions are capable of attenuating proinflammatory macrophage activation. Moreover, when evaluated in an in vitro setting mimicking an IA injection, K+ performed significantly better than hMSCs or the corticosteroid MPA. Cumulatively, these results support further development and application of a K+-based IA injection toward osteoarthritis research.
Project description:Interest in non-invasive injectable therapies has rapidly risen due to their excellent safety profile and ease of use in clinical settings. Injectable hydrogels can be derived from the extracellular matrix (ECM) of specific tissues to provide a biomimetic environment for cell delivery and enable seamless regeneration of tissue defects. We investigated the in situ delivery of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) in decellularized meniscus ECM hydrogel to a meniscal defect in a nude rat model. First, decellularized meniscus ECM hydrogel retained tissue-specific proteoglycans and collagens, and significantly upregulated expression of fibrochondrogenic markers by hMSCs versus collagen hydrogel alone in vitro. The meniscus ECM hydrogel in turn supported delivery of hMSCs for integrative repair of a full-thickness defect model in meniscal explants after in vitro culture and in vivo subcutaneous implantation. When applied to an orthotopic model of meniscal injury in nude rat, hMSCs in meniscus ECM hydrogel were retained out to eight weeks post-injection, contributing to tissue regeneration and protection from joint space narrowing, pathologic mineralization, and osteoarthritis development, as evidenced by macroscopic and microscopic image analysis. Based on these findings, we propose the use of tissue-specific meniscus ECM-derived hydrogel for the delivery of therapeutic hMSCs to treat meniscal injury.
Project description:Because of their immunomodulatory activities, human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are being explored to treat a variety of chronic conditions such as inflammatory bowel disorders and graft-vs-host disease. Treating hMSCs with IFN-? prior to administration augments these immunomodulatory properties; however, this ex vivo treatment limits the broad applicability of this therapy due to technical and regulatory issues. In this study, we engineered an injectable synthetic hydrogel with tethered recombinant IFN-? that activates encapsulated hMSCs to increase their immunomodulatory functions and avoids the need for ex vivo manipulation. Tethering IFN-? to the hydrogel increases retention of IFN-? within the biomaterial while preserving its biological activity. hMSCs encapsulated within hydrogels with tethered IFN-? exhibited significant differences in cytokine secretion and showed a potent ability to halt activated T-cell proliferation and monocyte-derived dendritic cell differentiation compared to hMSCs that were pre-treated with IFN-? and untreated hMSCs. Importantly, hMSCs encapsulated within hydrogels with tethered IFN-? accelerated healing of colonic mucosal wounds in both immunocompromised and immunocompetent mice. This novel approach for licensing hMSCs with IFN-? may enhance the clinical translation and efficacy of hMSC-based therapies.
Project description:The therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) transplantation for the treatment of ischemic conditions such as coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, and stroke has been explored in animal models and early-phase clinical trials. A substantial database documents the safety profile of MSC administration to humans in a large number of disease states. The mechanism of the therapeutic effect of MSC transplantation in ischemic disease has been postulated to be due to paracrine, immunomodulatory, and differentiation effects. This review provides an overview of the potential role of MSC-based therapy for critical limb ischemia (CLI), the comparison of MSC cellular therapy with angiogenesis gene therapy in CLI, and the proposed mechanism of action of MSC therapy. Preclinical efficacy data in animal models of hindlimb ischemia, current early-phase human trial data, and considerations for future MSC-based therapy in CLI will also be discussed.
Project description:Gene therapy and cell-based therapy have emerged as novel therapies to promote therapeutic angiogenesis in critical limb ischemia (CLI) caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD). Although researchers initially focused on gene therapy using proangiogenic factors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), and hepatocyte growth factors (HGF), cell therapy using bone marrow mononuclear cells (BMMNCs), mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs), G-CSF-mobilized peripheral blood mononuclear cells (M-PBMNCs), and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have also been extensively studied. Based on the elaborate studies and favorable results of basic research, some clinical phase I/II trials have been performed, and the results demonstrate the safety of these approaches and their potential for symptomatic improvement in CLI. However, the phase 3 clinical trials have thus far been limited to gene therapy using the HGF gene. Further studies using well-designed larger placebo-controlled and long-term randomized control trials (RCTs) will clarify the effectiveness of gene therapy and cell-based therapy for the treatment of CLI. Furthermore, the development of efficient gene transfer systems and effective methods for keeping transplanted cells healthy will make these novel therapies more effective and ease the symptoms of CLI.