Therapy of corneal endothelial dysfunction with corneal endothelial cell-like cells derived from skin-derived precursors.
ABSTRACT: Corneal endothelial dysfunction occurs when corneal endothelial cells (CECs) are dramatically lost and eventually results in vision loss. Corneal transplantation is the only solution at present. However, corneal transplantation requires a fresh human cornea and there is a worldwide shortage of donors. Therefore, finding new functional CECs to replace human CECs is urgent. Skin-derived precursors (SKPs) can be easily acquired and have multiple differential potential. We co-cultured human SKPs with B4G12 cells in serum-free medium and obtained abundant CEC-like cells which had similar morphology and characteristic to human CECs. CEC-like cells exerted excellent therapeutic effect when they were transplanted into rabbit and monkey corneal endothelial dysfunction models by injection method. This protocol enables efficient production of CEC-like cells from SKPs. The renewable cell source, novel derivation method and simple treatment strategy may lead to potential applications in cell replacement therapy for corneal endothelial dysfunction.
Project description:Purpose:To investigate the role of phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) in the regulation of corneal endothelial cell (CECs) focusing on proliferation and migration, and to further evaluate the application of PTEN inhibitors in the treatment of corneal endothelial dysfunction in a rat model. Methods:Expression of PTEN in human and rat corneal endothelium was determined by immunocytochemistry, western blotting, and ELISA. A small molecular inhibitor of PTEN, bpV(pic), was applied in the culture of human CEC cell line B4G12 and organ-cultured rat cornea in the presence of transforming growth factor beta 2 (TGF-?2). Cell cycle status was detected by flow cytometry and BrdU staining. Subcellular localization for endogenous p27Kip1 was detected by immunocytochemistry and western blotting. Moreover, exogenous transfected YFP-p27Kip1 was observed under a fluorescent microscope. Cell migration was examined with a wound scratch model and transwell invasion assay. Finally, bpV(pic) was intracamerally injected in a rat corneal endothelial injury model. The wound healing process was evaluated by slit lamp biomicroscopy, optical coherence tomography, histological and scanning electron microscope examination. Results:The expression of PTEN in human corneal endothelium was higher compared with rat, which we speculate was mostly responsible for the relatively less proliferation capacity of human CEC than rat. PTEN inhibition by bpV(pic) could reverse TGF-?2-induced CEC G1-arrest by alleviating p27Kip1 nuclear accumulation and decreasing total p27Kip1 expression. In addition, bpV(pic) promoted CEC migration, which acted synergistically with TGF-?2. Finally, intracameral injection of bpV(pic) could promote corneal endothelial wound healing in a rat model. Conclusions:Our study provided experimental basis for the development of therapeutic agent targeting on PTEN for the treatment of corneal endothelial dysfunction.
Project description:Purpose:To establish Myh11 as a marker of a subset of corneal endothelial cells (CECs), and to demonstrate the feasibility of restoring the corneal endothelium with Myh11-lineage (Myh11-Lin[+]) adipose-derived stromal cells (ASCs). Methods:Intraperitoneal administration of tamoxifen and (Z)-4-hydroxytamoxifen eyedrops were used to trace the lineage of Myh11-expressing cells with the Myh11-Cre-ERT2-flox-tdTomato mouse model. Immunostaining and Western blot characterized marker expression and spatial distribution of Myh11-Lin(+) cells in the cornea, and administration of 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine labeled proliferating cells. ASCs were isolated from epididymal adipose Myh11+ mural cells and treated with cornea differentiation media to evaluate corneal endothelial differentiation potential. Differentiated ASCs were injected into the anterior chamber to test for incorporation into corneal endothelium following scratch injury. Results:A subset of CECs express Myh11, a marker previously thought restricted to only mural cells. Myh11-Lin(+) CECs marked a stable subpopulation of cells in the cornea endothelium. Myh11-Lin(+) ASCs undergo CEC differentiation in vitro and incorporate into injured corneal endothelium. Conclusions:Dystrophy and dysfunction of the corneal endothelium accounts for almost half of all corneal transplants, the maintenance of the cornea endothelium is poorly understood, and there are a lack of mouse models to study specific CEC populations. We establish a mouse model that can trace the cell fate of a subpopulation of CECs based on Myh11 expression. A subset of ASCs that share this Myh11 transcriptional lineage are capable of differentiating into CECs that can incorporate into injured corneal endothelium, revealing a potential cell source for creating engineered transplant material.
Project description:Descemet's membrane (DM) helps maintain phenotype and function of corneal endothelial cells under physiological conditions, while little is known about the function of DM in corneal endothelial wound healing process. In the current study, we performed in vivo rabbit corneal endothelial cell (CEC) injury via CEC scraping, in which DM remained intact after CECs removal, or via DM stripping, in which DM was removed together with CECs. We found rabbit corneas in the CEC scraping group healed with transparency restoration, while there was posterior fibrosis tissue formation in the corneas after DM stripping on day 14. Following CEC scraping on day 3, cells that had migrated toward the central cornea underwent a transient fibrotic endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) which was reversed back to an endothelial phenotype on day 14. However, in the corneas injured via DM stripping, most of the cells in the posterior fibrosis tissue did not originate from the corneal endothelium, and they maintained fibroblastic phenotype on day 14. We concluded that corneal endothelial wound healing in rabbits has different outcomes depending upon the presence or absence of Descemet's membrane. Descemet's membrane supports corneal endothelial cell regeneration in rabbits after endothelial injury.
Project description:The corneal endothelium maintains corneal transparency; consequently, its dysfunction causes severe vision loss. Tissue engineering-based therapy, as an alternative to conventional donor corneal transplantation, is anticipated to provide a less invasive and more effective therapeutic modality. We conducted a preclinical study for cell-based therapy in a primate model and demonstrated regeneration of the corneal endothelium following injection of cultured monkey corneal endothelial cells (MCECs) or human CECs (HCECs), in combination with a Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, Y-27632, into the anterior chamber. We also evaluated the safety and efficacy of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-grade HCECs, similar to those planned for use as transplant material for human patients in a clinical trial, and we showed that the corneal endothelium was regenerated without adverse effect. We also showed that CEC engraftment is impaired by limited substrate adhesion, which is due to actomyosin contraction induced by dissociation-induced activation of ROCK/MLC signaling. Inclusion of a ROCK inhibitor improves efficiency of engraftment of CECs and enables cell-based therapy for treating corneal endothelial dysfunction as a clinically relevant therapy.
Project description:The corneal endothelium is a monolayer of hexagonal corneal endothelial cells (CECs) on the inner surface of the cornea. CECs are critical in maintaining corneal transparency through their barrier and pump functions. CECs in vivo have a limited capacity in proliferation, and loss of a significant number of CECs results in corneal edema called bullous keratopathy which can lead to severe visual loss. Corneal transplantation is the most effective method to treat corneal endothelial dysfunction, where it suffers from donor shortage. Therefore, regeneration of CECs from other cell types attracts increasing interests, and specific markers of CECs are crucial to identify actual CECs. However, the currently used markers are far from satisfactory because of their non-specific expression in other cell types. Here, we explored molecular markers to discriminate CECs from other cell types in the human body by integrating the published RNA-seq data of CECs and the FANTOM5 atlas representing diverse range of cell types based on expression patterns. We identified five genes, CLRN1, MRGPRX3, HTR1D, GRIP1 and ZP4 as novel markers of CECs, and the specificities of these genes were successfully confirmed by independent experiments at both the RNA and protein levels. Notably none of them have been documented in the context of CEC function. These markers could be useful for the purification of actual CECs, and also available for the evaluation of the products derived from other cell types. Our results demonstrate an effective approach to identify molecular markers for CECs and open the door for the regeneration of CECs in vitro.
Project description:AIM:To explore the effects of conditioned media on the proliferation of corneal endothelial cells (CECs) and to compare the efficiency of different conditioned media (CM). METHODS:Rat CECs, corneal stromal cells (CSCs), bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (BEPCs), and bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) were isolated and cultured in vitro. CM was collected from CSCs, BEPCs, and BMSCs. CECs were cultivated in different culture media. Cell morphology was recorded, and gene and protein expression were analyzed. RESULTS:After grown in CM for 5d, CECs in each experimental group remained polygonal, in a cobblestone-like monolayer arrangement. Immunocytofluorescence revealed positive expression of Na(+)/K(+)-ATP, aquaporin 1 (AQP1), and zonula occludens 1 (ZO-1). Based on quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis, Na(+)/K(+)-ATP expression in CSC-CM was notably upregulated by 1.3-fold (±0.036) (P<0.05, n=3). The expression levels of ZO-1, neuron specific enolase (NSE), Vimentin, paired homebox 6 (PAX6), and procollagen type VIII (COL8A1) were notably upregulated in each experimental group. Each CM had a positive effect on CEC proliferation, and CSC-CM had the strongest effect on proliferation. CONCLUSION:CSC-CM, BEPC-CM, and BMSC-CM not only stimulated the proliferation of CECs, but also maintained the characteristic differentiated phenotypes necessary for endothelial functions. CSC-CM had the most notable effect on CEC proliferation.
Project description:Considerable interest has been generated for the development of suitable corneal endothelial graft alternatives through cell-tissue engineering, which can potentially alleviate the shortage of corneal transplant material. The advent of less invasive suture-less key-hole surgery options such as Descemet's Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK) and Descemet's Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK), which involve transplantation of solely the endothelial layer instead of full thickness cornea, provide further impetus for the development of alternative endothelial grafts for clinical applications. A major challenge for this endeavor is the lack of specific markers for this cell type. To identify genes that reliably mark corneal endothelial cells (CECs) in vivo and in vitro, we performed RNA-sequencing on freshly isolated human CECs (from both young and old donors), CEC cultures, and corneal stroma. Gene expression of these corneal cell types was also compared to that of other human tissue types. Based on high throughput comparative gene expression analysis, we identified a panel of markers that are: i) highly expressed in CECs from both young donors and old donors; ii) expressed in CECs in vivo and in vitro; and iii) not expressed in corneal stroma keratocytes and the activated corneal stroma fibroblasts. These were SLC4A11, COL8A2 and CYYR1. The use of this panel of genes in combination reliably ascertains the identity of the CEC cell type.
Project description:Corneal endothelial cells (CECs) are essential for maintaining the clarity of the cornea. Because CECs have limited proliferative ability, interest is growing in their potentially therapeutic regeneration from pluripotent stem cells. However, the molecular mechanisms of human CEC differentiation remain largely unknown. To determine the key regulators of CEC characteristics, here we generated a comprehensive promoter-level expression profile of human CECs, using cap analysis of gene expression (CAGE) with a single molecule sequencer. Integration with the FANTOM5 promoter-level expression atlas, which includes transcriptome profiles of various human tissues and cells, enabled us to identify 45 promoters at 28 gene loci that are specifically expressed in CECs. We further discovered that the expression of transcription factor POU class 6 homeobox 2 (POU6F2) is restricted to CECs, and upregulated during human CEC differentiation, suggesting that POU6F2 is pivotal to terminal differentiation of CECs. These CEC-specific promoters would be useful for the assessment of fully differentiated CECs derived from pluripotent stem cells. These findings promote the development of corneal regenerative medicine.
Project description:Corneal endothelial cells (CECs) are very important for the maintenance of corneal transparency. However, in vitro, CECs display limited proliferation and loss of phenotype via endothelial to mesenchymal transformation (EMT) and cellular senescence. In this study, we demonstrate that continuous supplementary nutrition using a perfusion culture bioreactor and three-dimensional (3D) spheroid culture can be used to improve CEC expansion in culture and to construct a tissue-engineered CEC layer. Compared with static culture, perfusion-derived CECs exhibited an increased proliferative ability as well as formed close cell-cell contact junctions and numerous surface microvilli. We also demonstrated that the CEC spheroid culture significantly down-regulated gene expression of the proliferation marker Ki67 and EMT-related markers Vimentin and ?-SMA, whereas the gene expression level of the CEC marker ATP1A1 was significantly up-regulated. Furthermore, use of the perfusion system in conjunction with a spheroid culture on decellularized corneal scaffolds and collagen sheets promoted the generation of CEC monolayers as well as neo-synthesized ECM formation. This study also confirmed that a CEC spheroid culture on a curved collagen sheet with controlled physiological intraocular pressure could generate a CEC monolayer. Thus, our results show that the use of a perfusion system and 3D spheroid culture can promote CEC expansion and the construction of tissue-engineered corneal endothelial layers in vitro.
Project description:The corneal endothelium is composed of a monolayer of corneal endothelial cells (CECs), which is essential for maintaining corneal transparency. To better characterize CECs in different developmental stages, we profiled mRNA transcriptomes in human fetal and adult corneal endothelium with the goal to identify novel molecular markers in these cells. By comparing CECs with 12 other tissue types, we identified 245 and 284 signature genes that are highly expressed in fetal and adult CECs, respectively. Functionally, these genes are enriched in pathways characteristic of CECs, including inorganic anion transmembrane transporter, extracellular matrix structural constituent and cyclin-dependent protein kinase inhibitor activity. Importantly, several of these genes are disease target genes in hereditary corneal dystrophies, consistent with their functional significance in CEC physiology. We also identified stage-specific markers associated with CEC development, such as specific members in the transforming growth factor beta and Wnt signaling pathways only expressed in fetal, but not in adult CECs. Lastly, by the immunohistochemistry of ocular tissues, we demonstrated the unique protein localization for Wnt5a, S100A4, S100A6 and IER3, the four novel markers for fetal and adult CECs. The identification of a new panel of stage-specific markers for CECs would be very useful for characterizing CECs derived from stem cells or ex vivo expansion for cell replacement therapy.