Compressed Collagen Enhances Stem Cell Therapy for Corneal Scarring.
ABSTRACT: Stem cells from human corneal stroma (CSSC) suppress corneal stromal scarring in a mouse wound-healing model and promote regeneration of native transparent tissue (PMID:25504883). This study investigated efficacy of compressed collagen gel (CCG) as a vehicle to deliver CSSC for corneal therapy. CSSC isolated from limbal stroma of human donor corneas were embedded in soluble rat-tendon collagen, gelled at 37°C, and partially dehydrated to a thickness of 100 µm by passive absorption. The CCG disks were dimensionally stable, easy to handle, and could be adhered securely to de-epithelialized mouse cornea with fibrin-based adhesive. CSSC in CCG maintained >80% viability for >1 week in culture media and could be cryopreserved in 20% fetal bovine serum-10%DMSO in liquid nitrogen. CCG containing as few as 500 CSSC effectively prevented visible scarring and suppressed expression of fibrotic Col3a1 mRNA. CSSC in CCG were more effective at blocking scarring on a per-cell basis than CSSC delivered directly in a fibrin gel as previously described. Collagen-embedded cells retained the ability to suppress corneal scarring after conventional cryopreservation. This study demonstrates use of a common biomaterial that can facilitate storage and handling of stem cells in a manner that may provide off-the-shelf delivery of stem cells as a therapy for corneal scarring. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2018;7:487-494.
Project description:Corneal scarring limits vision for millions of individuals worldwide. Corneal transplantation (keratoplasty) is the standard of care for corneal opacity; however, it bears the risk of graft rejection and infection and is not universally available. Stem cell therapy holds promise as an alternative to keratoplasty. Stem cells from human corneal stroma (CSSC) induce regeneration of transparent corneal tissue in a mouse wound-healing model. In this study we investigated the mechanism by which CSSC prevent deposition of fibrotic tissue. Infiltration by CD11b+/Ly6G+ neutrophils and myeloperoxidase expression were increased in corneas 24 hr after corneal wounding but were reduced in CSSC-treated wounds. Secretion of TSG-6, a protein known to regulate neutrophil migration, was up-regulated in CSSC in response to TNF? and as CSSC differentiate to keratocytes. In vivo, wounded mouse corneas treated with CSSC contained human TSG-6. Inhibition of neutrophil infiltration into cornea by CSSC was reversed when TSG-6 expression was knocked down using siRNA. Silencing of TSG-6 expression in CSSC reduced their ability to block scarring and the expression of mRNA for fibrosis-associated proteins collagen III, tenascin C, and smooth muscle actin in wounded corneas. Neutropenic mice exhibited a significant reduction in corneal scarring and fibrotic mRNA expression 2 weeks after wounding. These results support the conclusion that neutrophil infiltration is an essential event in the fibrotic response to corneal damage and that prevention of scarring by CSSC is mediated by secretion of TSG-6 by these cells.
Project description:Background Corneal stromal stem cells (CSSC) reduce corneal inflammation, prevent fibrotic scarring, and regenerate transparent stromal tissue in injured corneas. These effects rely on factors produced by CSSC to block the fibrotic gene expression. This study investigated the mechanism of the scar-free regeneration effect. Methods Primary human CSSC (hCSSC) from donor corneal rims were cultivated to passage 3 and co-cultured with mouse macrophage RAW264.7 cells induced to M1 pro-inflammatory phenotype by treatment with interferon-? and lipopolysaccharides, or to M2 anti-inflammatory phenotype by interleukin-4, in a Transwell system. The time-course expression of human transforming growth factor ?3 (hTGF?3) and hTGF?1 were examined by immunofluorescence and qPCR. TGF?3 knockdown for >?70% in hCSSC [hCSSC-TGF?3(si)] was achieved by small interfering RNA transfection. Naïve CSSC and hCSSC-TGF?3(si) were transplanted in a fibrin gel to mouse corneas, respectively, after wounding by stromal ablation. Corneal clarity and the expression of mouse inflammatory and fibrosis genes were examined. Results hTGF?3 was upregulated by hCSSC when co-cultured with RAW cells under M1 condition. Transplantation of hCSSC to wounded mouse corneas showed significant upregulation of hTGF?3 at days 1 and 3 post-injury, along with the reduced expression of mouse inflammatory genes (CD80, C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 5, lipocalin 2, plasminogen activator urokinase receptor, pro-platelet basic protein, and secreted phosphoprotein 1). By day 14, hCSSC treatment significantly reduced the expression of fibrotic and scar tissue genes (fibronectin, hyaluronan synthase 2, Secreted protein acidic and cysteine rich, tenascin C, collagen 3a1 and ?-smooth muscle actin), and the injured corneas remained clear. However, hCSSC-TGF?3(si) lost these anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring functions, and the wounded corneas showed intense scarring. Conclusion This study has demonstrated that the corneal regenerative effect of hCSSC is mediated by TGF?3, inducing a scar-free tissue response.
Project description:Mesenchymal stem cells from corneal stromal stem cells (CSSC) prevent fibrotic scarring and stimulate regeneration of transparent stromal tissue after corneal wounding in mice. These effects rely on the ability of CSSC to block neutrophil infiltration into the damaged cornea. The current study investigated the hypothesis that tissue regeneration by CSSC is mediated by secreted extracellular vesicles (EVs). CSSC produced EVs 130-150?nm in diameter with surface proteins that include CD63, CD81, and CD9. EVs from CSSC reduced visual scarring in murine corneal wounds as effectively as did live cells, but EVs from human embryonic kidney (HEK)293T cells had no regenerative properties. CSSC EV treatment of wounds decreased expression of fibrotic genes Col3a1 and Acta2, blocked neutrophil infiltration, and restored normal tissue morphology. CSSC EVs labeled with carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester dye, rapidly fused with corneal epithelial and stromal cells in culture, transferring microRNA (miRNA) to the target cells. Knockdown of mRNA for Alix, a component of the endosomal sorting complex required for transport, using siRNA, resulted in an 85% reduction of miRNA in the secreted EVs. The EVs with reduced miRNA were ineffective at blocking corneal scarring. Furthermore, CSSC with reduced Alix expression also lost their regenerative function, suggesting EVs as an obligate component in the delivery of miRNA. The results of these studies support an essential role for extracellular vesicles in the process by which CSSC cells block scarring and initiate regeneration of transparent corneal tissue after wounding. EVs appear to serve as a delivery vehicle for miRNA, which affects the regenerative action. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2019;8:1192-1201.
Project description:Human corneal fibroblasts (HCF) and corneal stromal stem cells (CSSC) each secrete and organize a thick stroma-like extracellular matrix in response to different substrata, but neither cell type organizes matrix on tissue-culture polystyrene. This study compared cell differentiation and extracellular matrix secreted by these two cell types when they were cultured on identical substrata, polycarbonate Transwell filters. After 4 weeks in culture, both cell types upregulated expression of genes marking differentiated keratocytes (KERA, CHST6, AQP1, B3GNT7). Absolute expression levels of these genes and secretion of keratan sulfate proteoglycans were significantly greater in CSSC than HCF. Both cultures produced extensive extracellular matrix of aligned collagen fibrils types I and V, exhibiting cornea-like lamellar structure. Unlike HCF, CSSC produced little matrix in the presence of serum. Construct thickness and collagen organization was enhanced by TGF-ß3. Scanning electron microscopic examination of the polycarbonate membrane revealed shallow parallel grooves with spacing of 200-300 nm, similar to the topography of aligned nanofiber substratum which we previously showed to induce matrix organization by CSSC. These results demonstrate that both corneal fibroblasts and stromal stem cells respond to a specific pattern of topographical cues by secreting highly organized extracellular matrix typical of corneal stroma. The data also suggest that the potential for matrix secretion and organization may not be directly related to the expression of molecular markers used to identify differentiated keratocytes.
Project description:Conventional allograft therapy for corneal scarring is widespread and successful, but donor tissue is not universally available, and some grafts fail owing to rejection and complications such as endothelial failure. We investigated direct treatment of corneal scarring using autologous stem cells, a therapy that, if successful, could reduce the need for corneal grafts. Mesenchymal cells were expanded from small superficial, clinically replicable limbal biopsies of human cadaveric corneo-scleral rims. Limbal biopsy-derived stromal cells (LBSCs) expanded rapidly in media containing human serum, were highly clonogenic, and could generate spheres expressing stem cell genes (ABCG2, Nestin, NGFR, Oct4, PAX6, and Sox2). Human LBSCs differentiated into keratocytes expressing characteristic marker genes (ALDH3A1, AQP1, KERA, and PTGDS) and organized a thick lamellar stroma-like tissue containing aligned collagen and keratan sulfate proteoglycans when cultured on aligned nanofiber substrata. When engrafted into mouse corneal wounds, LBSCs prevented formation of light-scattering scar tissue containing fibrotic matrix components. The presence of LBSCs induced regeneration of ablated stroma with tissue exhibiting lamellar structure and collagen organization indistinguishable from that of native tissue. Because the limbus can be easily biopsied from either eye of an affected individual and LBSCs capable of corneal stromal remodeling can be expanded under xeno-free autologous conditions, these cells present a potential for autologous stem cell-based treatment of corneal stromal blindness.
Project description:Corneal scarring from trauma and inflammation disrupts vision for millions worldwide, but corneal transplantation, the primary therapy for corneal blindness, is unavailable to many affected individuals. In this study, stem cells isolated from adult human corneal stroma were examined for the ability to correct stromal opacity in a murine model by direct injection of cells into the corneal stroma. In wild-type mice, injected human stem cells remained viable for months without fusing with host cells or eliciting an immune T-cell response. Human corneal-specific extracellular matrix, including the proteoglycans lumican and keratocan, accumulated in the treated corneas. Lumican-null mice have corneal opacity similar to that of scar tissue as a result of disruption of stromal collagen organization. After injection with human stromal stem cells, stromal thickness and collagen fibril defects in these mice were restored to that of normal mice. Corneal transparency in the treated mice was indistinguishable from that of wild-type mice. These results support the immune privilege of adult stem cells and the ability of stem cell therapy to regenerate tissue in a manner analogous to organogenesis and clearly different from that of normal wound healing. The results suggest that cell-based therapy can be an effective approach to treatment of human corneal blindness.
Project description:Extracellular matrix (ECM) supplies both physical and chemical signals to cells and provides a substrate through which fibroblasts migrate during wound repair. To directly assess how ECM composition regulates this process, we used a nested 3D matrix model in which cell-populated collagen buttons were embedded in cell-free collagen or fibrin matrices. Time-lapse microscopy was used to record the dynamic pattern of cell migration into the outer matrices, and 3D confocal imaging was used to assess cell connectivity and cytoskeletal organization. Corneal fibroblasts stimulated with PDGF migrated more rapidly into collagen as compared to fibrin. In addition, the pattern of fibroblast migration into fibrin and collagen ECMs was strikingly different. Corneal fibroblasts migrating into collagen matrices developed dendritic processes and moved independently, whereas cells migrating into fibrin matrices had a more fusiform morphology and formed an interconnected meshwork. A similar pattern was observed when using dermal fibroblasts, suggesting that this response is not unique to corneal cells. We next cultured corneal fibroblasts within and on top of standard collagen and fibrin matrices to assess the impact of ECM composition on the cell spreading response. Similar differences in cell morphology and connectivity were observed – cells remained separated on collagen but coalesced into clusters on fibrin. Cadherin was localized to junctions between interconnected cells, whereas fibronectin was present both between cells and at the tips of extending cell processes. Cells on fibrin matrices also developed more prominent stress fibers than those on collagen matrices. Importantly, these spreading and migration patterns were consistently observed on both rigid and compliant substrates, thus differences in ECM mechanical stiffness were not the underlying cause. Overall, these results demonstrate for the first time that ECM protein composition alone (collagen vs. fibrin) can induce a switch from individual to collective fibroblast spreading and migration in 3D culture. Similar processes may also influence cell behavior during wound healing, development, tumor invasion and repopulation of engineered tissues.
Project description:Human limbal epithelial cells (HLE) and corneal stromal stem cells (CSSC) reside in close proximity in vivo in the corneal limbal stem cell niche. However, HLE are typically cultured in vitro without supporting niche cells. Here, we re-create the cell-cell juxtaposition of the native environment in vitro, to provide a tool for investigation of epithelial-stromal cell interactions and to optimize HLE culture conditions for potential therapeutic application. RAFT (Real Architecture For 3D Tissue) tissue equivalents (TEs) were used as a 3-dimensional substrate for co-culturing HLE and CSSC. Our results demonstrate that a monolayer of HLE that maintained expression of p63α, ABCB5, CK8 and CK15 (HLE markers), formed on the surface of RAFT TEs within 13 days of culture. CSSC remained in close proximity to HLE and maintained expression of mesenchymal stem cell markers. This simple technique has a short preparation time of only 15 days with the onset of HLE layering and differentiation observed. Furthermore, co-cultivation of HLE with another niche cell type (CSSC) directly on RAFT TEs, eliminates the requirement for animal-derived feeder cells. RAFT TEs may be useful for future therapeutic delivery of multiple cell types to restore the limbal niche following ocular surface injury or disease.
Project description:The purpose of this review was to provide detailed insights into the pathophysiology of myofibroblast-mediated fibrosis (scarring or late haze) after corneal injury, surgery, or infection.Literature review.The epithelium and epithelial basement membrane (EBM) and/or endothelium and Descemet's basement membrane (BM) are commonly disrupted after corneal injuries, surgeries, and infections. Regeneration of these critical regulatory structures relies on the coordinated production of BM components, including laminins, nidogens, perlecan, and collagen type IV by epithelial, endothelial, and keratocyte cells. Whether a cornea, or an area in the cornea, heals with transparency or fibrosis may be determined by whether there is injury to one or both corneal basement membranes (EBM and/or Descemet's BM) and delayed or defective regeneration or replacement of the BM. These opaque myofibroblasts, and the disordered extracellular matrix these cells produce, persist in the stroma until the EBM and/or Descemet's BM is regenerated or replaced.Corneal stromal fibrosis (also termed "stromal scarring" or "late haze") occurs as a consequence of BM injury and defective regeneration in both the anterior (EBM) and posterior (Descemet's BM) cornea. The resolution of fibrosis and return of stromal transparency depends on reestablished BM structure and function. It is hypothesized that defective regeneration of the EBM or Descemet's BM allows key profibrotic growth factors, including transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-?1) and TGF-?2, to penetrate the stroma at sustained levels necessary to drive the development and maintenance of mature opacity-producing myofibroblasts from myofibroblast precursors cells, and studies suggest that perlecan and collagen type IV are the critical components in EBM and Descemet's BM that bind TGF-?1, TGF-?2, platelet-derived growth factor, and possibly other growth factors, and regulate their bioavailability and function during homeostasis and corneal wound healing.