Activation of RAR?, RAR?, or RXR? Increases Barrier Tightness in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Brain Endothelial Cells.
ABSTRACT: The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is critical to central nervous system (CNS) health. Brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) are often used as in vitro BBB models for studying BBB dysfunction and therapeutic screening applications. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can be differentiated to cells having key BMEC barrier and transporter properties, offering a renewable, scalable source of human BMECs. hPSC-derived BMECs have previously been shown to respond to all-trans retinoic acid (RA), and the goal of this study was to identify the stages at which differentiating human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) respond to activation of RA receptors (RARs) to impart BBB phenotypes. Here the authors identified that RA application to iPSC-derived BMECs at days 6-8 of differentiation led to a substantial elevation in transendothelial electrical resistance and induction of VE-cadherin expression. Specific RAR agonists identified RAR?, RAR?, and RXR? as receptors capable of inducing barrier phenotypes. Moreover, RAR/RXR? costimulation elevated VE-cadherin expression and improved barrier fidelity to levels that recapitulated the effects of RA. This study elucidates the roles of RA signaling in iPSC-derived BMEC differentiation, and identifies directed agonist approaches that can improve BMEC fidelity for drug screening studies while also distinguishing potential nuclear receptor targets to explore in BBB dysfunction and therapy.
Project description:The blood-brain barrier (BBB) maintains brain homeostasis but also presents a major obstacle to brain drug delivery. Brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) form the principal barrier and therefore represent the major cellular component of in vitro BBB models. Such models are often used for mechanistic studies of the BBB in health and disease and for drug screening. Recently, human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have emerged as a new source for generating BMEC-like cells for use in in vitro human BBB studies. However, the inability to cryopreserve iPSC-BMECs has impeded implementation of this model by requiring a fresh differentiation to generate cells for each experiment. Cryopreservation of differentiated iPSC-BMECs would have a number of distinct advantages, including enabling production of larger scale lots, decreasing lead time to generate purified iPSC-BMEC cultures, and facilitating use of iPSC-BMECs in large-scale screening. In this study, we demonstrate that iPSC-BMECs can be successfully cryopreserved at multiple differentiation stages. Cryopreserved iPSC-BMECs retain high viability, express standard endothelial and BBB markers, and reach a high transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) of ?3000 ?·cm<sup>2</sup>, equivalent to nonfrozen controls. Rho-associated coiled coil-containing kinase (ROCK) inhibitor Y-27632 substantially increased survival and attachment of cryopreserved iPSC-BMECs, as well as stabilized TEER above 800 ?·cm<sup>2</sup> out to 7 days post-thaw. Overall, cryopreservation will ease handling and storage of high-quality iPSC-BMECs, reducing a key barrier to greater implementation of these cells in modeling the human BBB.
Project description:The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is critical in maintaining a physical and metabolic barrier between the blood and the brain. The BBB consists of brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) that line the brain vasculature and combine with astrocytes, neurons and pericytes to form the neurovascular unit. We hypothesized that astrocytes and neurons generated from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) could induce BBB phenotypes in iPSC-derived BMECs, creating a robust multicellular human BBB model. To this end, iPSCs were used to form neural progenitor-like EZ-spheres, which were in turn differentiated to neurons and astrocytes, enabling facile neural cell generation. The iPSC-derived astrocytes and neurons induced barrier tightening in primary rat BMECs indicating their BBB inductive capacity. When co-cultured with human iPSC-derived BMECs, the iPSC-derived neurons and astrocytes significantly elevated trans-endothelial electrical resistance, reduced passive permeability, and improved tight junction continuity in the BMEC cell population, while p-glycoprotein efflux transporter activity was unchanged. A physiologically relevant neural cell mixture of one neuron: three astrocytes yielded optimal BMEC induction properties. Finally, an isogenic multicellular BBB model was successfully demonstrated employing BMECs, astrocytes, and neurons from the same donor iPSC source. It is anticipated that such an isogenic facsimile of the human BBB could have applications in furthering understanding the cellular interplay of the neurovascular unit in both healthy and diseased humans. Read the Editorial Highlight for this article on page 843.
Project description:The strong barrier function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) protects the central nervous system (CNS) from xenobiotic substances, while the expression of selective transporters controls the transportation of nutrients between the blood and brain. As a result, the delivery of drugs to the CNS and prediction of the ability of specific drugs to penetrate the BBB can be difficult. Although in vivo pharmacokinetic analysis using rodents is a commonly used method for predicting human BBB permeability, novel in vitro BBB models, such as Transwell models, have been developed recently. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have the potential to differentiate into various types of cells, and protocols for the differentiation of iPSCs to generate brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) have been reported. The use of iPSCs makes it easy to scale-up iPSC-derived BMECs (iBMECs) and enables production of BBB disease models by using iPSCs from multiple donors with disease, which are advantageous properties compared with models that utilize primary BMECs (pBMECs). There has been little research on the value of iBMECs for predicting BBB permeability. This study focused on the similarity of iBMECs to pBMECs and investigated the ability of iPSC-BBB models (monoculture and coculture) to predict in vivo human BBB permeability using iBMECs. iBMECs express BMEC markers (e.g., VE-cadherin and claudin-5) and influx/efflux transporters (e.g., Glut-1, SLC7A5, CD220, P-gp, ABCG2, and MRP-1) and exhibit high barrier function (transendothelial electrical resistance, >1000 ??×?cm2) as well as similar transporter expression profiles to pBMECs. We determined that the efflux activity using P-glycoprotein (P-gp) transporter is not sufficient in iBMECs, while in drug permeability tests, iPSC-derived BBB models showed a higher correlation with in vivo human BBB permeability compared with a rat BBB model and the Caco-2 model. In a comparison between monoculture and coculture models, the coculture BBB model showed higher efflux activity for compounds with low CNS permeability (e.g., verapamil and thioridazine). In conclusion, iPSC-BBB models make it possible to predict BBB permeability, and employing coculturing can improve iPSC-BBB function.
Project description:The blood brain barrier (BBB) is formed by brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) and tightly regulates the transport of molecules from blood to neural tissues. In vitro BBB models from human pluripotent stem cell (PSCs)-derived BMECs would be useful not only for the research on the BBB development and function but also for drug-screening for neurological diseases. However, little is known about the differentiation of human PSCs to BMECs. In the present study, human induced PSCs (iPSCs) were differentiated into endothelial cells (ECs), and further maturated to BMECs. Interestingly, C6 rat glioma cell-conditioned medium (C6CM), in addition to C6 co-culture, induced the differentiation of human iPSC-derived ECs (iPS-ECs) to BMEC-like cells, increase in the trans-endothelial electrical resistance, decreased in the dextran transport and up-regulation of gene expression of tight junction molecules in human iPS-ECs. Moreover, Wnt inhibitors attenuated the effects of C6CM. In summary, we have established a simple protocol of the generation of BMEC-like cells from human iPSCs, and have demonstrated that differentiation of iPS-ECs to BMEC-like cells is induced by C6CM-derived signals, including canonical Wnt signals.
Project description:Recent evidence from this laboratory indicated that reduced expression of caveolin-1 accompanied the diminished expression of tight junction (TJ)-associated proteins occludin and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) following stimulation of brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) with the chemokine CCL2 (formerly called MCP-1). Because attenuated caveolin-1 levels have also been correlated with heightened permeability of other endothelia, the objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that reduced caveolin-1 expression is causally linked to the action of CCL2 on BMEC junctional protein expression and barrier integrity. This was achieved using adenovirus to nondestructively deliver caveolin-1 siRNA (Ad-siCav-1) to BMEC monolayers, which model the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Treatment with siRNA reduced the caveolin-1 protein level as well as occludin and ZO-1. Additionally, occludin exhibited dissociation from the cytoskeletal framework. These changes were attended by comparable alterations in adherens junction (AJ)-associated proteins, VE-cadherin and beta-catenin, increased BMEC paracellular permeability, and facilitated the ability of CCL2 to stimulate monocytic transendothelial migration. Furthermore, treating BMECs with cavtratin, a synthetic cell-permeable peptide encoding the caveolin-1 scaffolding domain, antagonized effects of both Ad-siCav-1 and CCL2. These results collectively highlight caveolin-1 loss as a critical step in CCL2-induced modulation of BMEC junctional protein expression and integrity, and possibly serve a crucial role in regulating inflammation at the BBB.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Pericytes of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) are embedded within basement membrane between brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) and astrocyte end-feet. Despite the direct cell-cell contact observed in vivo, most in vitro BBB models introduce an artificial membrane that separates pericytes from BMECs. In this study, we investigated the effects of pericytes on BMEC barrier function across a range of in vitro platforms with varied spatial orientations and levels of cell-cell contact. METHODS:We differentiated RFP-pericytes and GFP-BMECs from hiPSCs and monitored transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) across BMECs on transwell inserts while pericytes were either directly co-cultured on the membrane, indirectly co-cultured in the basolateral chamber, or embedded in a collagen I gel formed on the transwell membrane. We then incorporated pericytes into a tissue-engineered microvessel model of the BBB and measured pericyte motility and microvessel permeability. RESULTS:We found that BMEC monolayers did not require co-culture with pericytes to achieve physiological TEER values (> 1500 Ω cm2). However, under stressed conditions where TEER values for BMEC monolayers were reduced, indirectly co-cultured hiPSC-derived pericytes restored optimal TEER. Conversely, directly co-cultured pericytes resulted in a decrease in TEER by interfering with BMEC monolayer continuity. In the microvessel model, we observed direct pericyte-BMEC contact, abluminal pericyte localization, and physiologically-low Lucifer yellow permeability comparable to that of BMEC microvessels. In addition, pericyte motility decreased during the first 48 h of co-culture, suggesting progression towards pericyte stabilization. CONCLUSIONS:We demonstrated that monocultured BMECs do not require co-culture to achieve physiological TEER, but that suboptimal TEER in stressed monolayers can be increased through co-culture with hiPSC-derived pericytes or conditioned media. We also developed the first BBB microvessel model using exclusively hiPSC-derived BMECs and pericytes, which could be used to examine vascular dysfunction in the human CNS.
Project description:Drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) remains a significant obstacle for the development of neurological disease therapies. The low penetration of blood-borne therapeutics into the brain can oftentimes be attributed to the restrictive nature of the brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) that comprise the BBB. One strategy beginning to be successfully leveraged is the use of endogenous receptor-mediated transcytosis (RMT) systems as a means to shuttle a targeted therapeutic into the brain. Limitations of known RMT targets and their cognate targeting reagents include brain specificity, brain uptake levels, and off-target effects, driving the search for new and potentially improved brain targeting reagent-RMT pairs. To this end, we deployed human-induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived BMEC-like cells as a model BBB substrate on which to mine for new RMT-targeting antibody pairs. A nonimmune, human single-chain variable fragment (scFv) phage display library was screened for binding, internalization, and transcytosis across iPSC-derived BMECs. Lead candidates exhibited binding and internalization into BMECs as well as binding to both human and mouse BBB in brain tissue sections. Antibodies targeted the murine BBB after intravenous administration with one particular clone, 46.1-scFv, exhibiting a 26-fold increase in brain accumulation (8.1 nM). Moreover, clone 46.1-scFv was found to associate with postvascular, parenchymal cells, indicating its successful receptor-mediated transport across the BBB. Such a new BBB targeting ligand could enhance the transport of therapeutic molecules into the brain.
Project description:Hyaluronan (HA) constitutes the most abundant extracellular matrix component during brain development, only to become a minor component rapidly after birth and in adulthood to remain in specified regions. HA signaling has been associated with several neurological disorders, yet the impact of HA signaling at the blood-brain barrier (BBB) function remains undocumented. In this study, we investigated the impact of HA on BBB properties using human-induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) -derived and primary human and rat BMECs. The impact of HA signaling on developmental and mature BMECs was assessed by measuring changes in TEER, permeability, BMECs markers (GLUT1, tight junction proteins, P-gp) expression and localization, CD44 expression and hyaluronan levels. In general, HA treatment decreased barrier function and reduced P-gp activity with effects being more prominent upon treatment with oligomeric forms of HA (oHA). Such effects were exacerbated when applied during BMEC differentiation phase (considered as developmental BBB). We noted a hyaluronidase activity as well as an increase in CD44 expression during prolonged oxygen-glucose deprivation stress. Inhibition of HA signaling by antibody blockade of CD44 abrogated the detrimental effects of HA treatment. These results suggest the importance of HA signaling through CD44 on BBB properties.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of neurodegenerative disease. It is an irreversible condition marked by irreversible cognitive loss, commonly attributed to the loss of hippocampal neurons due to the formation of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Although the sporadic form is the most prevalent, the presence of familial form (involving several genes such as APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2) of the disease is commonly used as a model for understanding the pathophysiology of the disease. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of a mutation on PSEN1 and PSEN2 genes on the BBB function using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).<h4>Methods</h4>iPSC lines from patients suffering from a familial form of Alzheimer's disease and harboring mutations in PSEN1 or PSEN2 were used in this study and compared to a control iPSC line. Cells were differentiated into brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) following established differentiation protocols. Barrier function was assessed by measuring TEER and fluorescein permeability, drug transporter activity was assessed by uptake assay, glucose uptake and metabolism assessed by cell flux analyzer, mitochondrial potential by JC-1, and lysosomal acidification by acridine orange.<h4>Results</h4>iPSC-derived BMECs from the FAD patient presenting a mutation in the PSEN1 gene showed impaired barrier function compared to the FAD patient harboring a mutation in PSEN2 and to the control group. Such impaired barrier function correlated with poor tight junction complexes and reduced drug efflux pump activity. In addition, both PSEN1 and PSEN2-BMECs displayed reduced bioenergetics, lysosomal acidification, autophagy, while showing an increase in radical oxygen species (ROS) production. Finally, PSEN1- and PSEN2-BMECs showed an elevated secretion of A?1-40 peptides compared to control-BMECs.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our study reports that iPSC-derived BMECs obtained from FAD patients showed impaired barrier properties and BMEC metabolism. In particular, mutation in the PSEN1 gene was associated with a more detrimental phenotype than mutation in PSEN2, as noted by a reduced barrier function, reduced drug efflux pump activity, and diminished glucose metabolism. Therefore, assessing the contribution of genetic mutations associated with Alzheimer's disease will allow us to better understand the contribution of the BBB in dementia, but also other neurodegenerative diseases.
Project description:In mouse embryonic cells, ligand-activated retinoic acid receptors (RARs) play a key role in inhibiting pluripotency-maintaining genes and activating some major actors of cell differentiation. To investigate the mechanism underlying this dual regulation, we performed joint RAR/RXR ChIP-seq and mRNA-seq time series during the first 48 h of the RA-induced Primitive Endoderm (PrE) differentiation process in F9 embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells. We show here that this dual regulation is associated with RAR/RXR genomic redistribution during the differentiation process. In-depth analysis of RAR/RXR binding sites occupancy dynamics and composition show that in undifferentiated cells, RAR/RXR interact with genomic regions characterized by binding of pluripotency-associated factors and high prevalence of the non-canonical DR0-containing RA response element. By contrast, in differentiated cells, RAR/RXR bound regions are enriched in functional Sox17 binding sites and are characterized with a higher frequency of the canonical DR5 motif. Our data offer an unprecedentedly detailed view on the action of RA in triggering pluripotent cell differentiation and demonstrate that RAR/RXR action is mediated via two different sets of regulatory regions tightly associated with cell differentiation status.