Tissue Engineering Using Vascular Organoids From Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived Mural Cell Phenotypes.
ABSTRACT: Diffusion is a limiting factor in regenerating large tissues (100-200 ?m) due to reduced nutrient supply and waste removal leading to low viability of the regenerating cells as neovascularization of the implant by the host is a slow process. Thus, generating prevascularized tissue engineered constructs, in which endothelial (ECs) and mural (MCs) cells, such as smooth muscle cells (SMCs), and pericytes (PCs), are preassembled into functional in vitro vessels capable of rapidly connecting to the host vasculature could overcome this obstacle. Toward this purpose, using feeder-free and low serum conditions, we developed a simple, efficient and rapid in vitro approach to induce the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells-hPSCs (human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells) to defined SMC populations (contractile and synthetic hPSC-SMCs) by extensively characterizing the cellular phenotype (expression of CD44, CD73, CD105, NG2, PDGFR?, and contractile proteins) and function of hPSC-SMCs. The latter were phenotypically and functionally stable for at least 8 passages, and could stabilize vessel formation and inhibit vessel network regression, when co-cultured with ECs in vitro. Subsequently, using a methylcellulose-based hydrogel system, we generated spheroids consisting of EC/hPSC-SMC (vascular organoids), which were extensively phenotypically characterized. Moreover, the vascular organoids served as focal starting points for the sprouting of capillary-like structures in vitro, whereas their delivery in vivo led to rapid generation of a complex functional vascular network. Finally, we investigated the vascularization potential of these vascular organoids, when embedded in hydrogels composed of defined extracellular components (collagen/fibrinogen/fibronectin) that can be used as scaffolds in tissue engineering applications. In summary, we developed a robust method for the generation of defined SMC phenotypes from hPSCs. Fabrication of vascularized tissue constructs using hPSC-SMC/EC vascular organoids embedded in chemically defined matrices is a significant step forward in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Project description:Elucidating the pathways that lead to vasculogenic cells, and being able to identify their progenitors and lineage-restricted cells, is critical to the establishment of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) models for vascular diseases and development of vascular therapies. Here, we find that mesoderm-derived pericytes (PCs) and smooth muscle cells (SMCs) originate from a clonal mesenchymal progenitor mesenchymoangioblast (MB). In clonogenic cultures, MBs differentiate into primitive PDGFR?+CD271+CD73- mesenchymal progenitors, which give rise to proliferative PCs, SMCs, and mesenchymal stem/stromal cells. MB-derived PCs can be further specified to CD274+ capillary and DLK1+ arteriolar PCs with a proinflammatory and contractile phenotype, respectively. SMC maturation was induced using a MEK inhibitor. Establishing the vasculogenic lineage tree, along with identification of stage- and lineage-specific markers, provides a platform for interrogating the molecular mechanisms that regulate vasculogenic cell specification and diversification and manufacturing well-defined mural cell populations for vascular engineering and cellular therapies from hPSCs.
Project description:Heterogeneity of embryological origins is a hallmark of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and may influence the development of vascular disease. Differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into developmental origin-specific SMC subtypes remains elusive. Here we describe a chemically defined protocol in which hPSCs were initially induced to form neuroectoderm, lateral plate mesoderm or paraxial mesoderm. These intermediate populations were further differentiated toward SMCs (>80% MYH11(+) and ACTA2(+)), which displayed contractile ability in response to vasoconstrictors and invested perivascular regions in vivo. Derived SMC subtypes recapitulated the unique proliferative and secretory responses to cytokines previously documented in studies using aortic SMCs of distinct origins. Notably, this system predicted increased extracellular matrix degradation by SMCs derived from lateral plate mesoderm, which was confirmed using rat aortic SMCs from corresponding origins. This differentiation approach will have broad applications in modeling origin-dependent disease susceptibility and in developing bioengineered vascular grafts for regenerative medicine.
Project description:Endothelial cells (ECs) are critical for several aspects of cardiovascular disease therapy, including vascular regeneration, personalized drug development, and tissue engineering. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) afford us with an unprecedented opportunity to produce virtually unlimited quantities of human ECs. In this review, we highlight key developments and outstanding challenges in our ability to derive ECs de novo from hPSCs. Furthermore, we consider strategies for recapitulating the vessel- and tissue-specific functional heterogeneity of ECs in vitro. Finally, we discuss ongoing attempts to utilize hPSC-derived ECs and their progenitors for various therapeutic applications. Continued progress in generating hPSC-derived ECs will profoundly enhance our ability to discover novel drug targets, revascularize ischemic tissues, and engineer clinically relevant tissue constructs. Visual Overview- An online visual overview is available for this article.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived endothelial cells (ECs) have limited clinical utility because of undefined components in the differentiation system and poor cell survival in vivo. Here, we aimed to develop a fully defined and clinically compatible system to differentiate hPSCs into ECs. Furthermore, we aimed to enhance cell survival, vessel formation, and therapeutic potential by encapsulating hPSC-ECs with a peptide amphiphile (PA) nanomatrix gel. METHODS:We induced differentiation of hPSCs into the mesodermal lineage by culturing on collagen-coated plates with a glycogen synthase kinase 3? inhibitor. Next, vascular endothelial growth factor, endothelial growth factor, and basic fibroblast growth factor were added for endothelial lineage differentiation, followed by sorting for CDH5 (VE-cadherin). We constructed an extracellular matrix-mimicking PA nanomatrix gel (PA-RGDS) by incorporating the cell adhesive ligand Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser (RGDS) and a matrix metalloproteinase-2-degradable sequence. We then evaluated whether the encapsulation of hPSC-CDH5+ cells in PA-RGDS could enhance long-term cell survival and vascular regenerative effects in a hind-limb ischemia model with laser Doppler perfusion imaging, bioluminescence imaging, real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and histological analysis. RESULTS:The resultant hPSC-derived CDH5+ cells (hPSC-ECs) showed highly enriched and genuine EC characteristics and proangiogenic activities. When injected into ischemic hind limbs, hPSC-ECs showed better perfusion recovery and higher vessel-forming capacity compared with media-, PA-RGDS-, or human umbilical vein EC-injected groups. However, the group receiving the PA-RGDS-encapsulated hPSC-ECs showed better perfusion recovery, more robust and longer cell survival (> 10 months), and higher and prolonged angiogenic and vascular incorporation capabilities than the bare hPSC-EC-injected group. Surprisingly, the engrafted hPSC-ECs demonstrated previously unknown sustained and dynamic vessel-forming behavior: initial perivascular concentration, a guiding role for new vessel formation, and progressive incorporation into the vessels over 10 months. CONCLUSIONS:We generated highly enriched hPSC-ECs via a clinically compatible system. Furthermore, this study demonstrated that a biocompatible PA-RGDS nanomatrix gel substantially improved long-term survival of hPSC-ECs in an ischemic environment and improved neovascularization effects of hPSC-ECs via prolonged and unique angiogenic and vessel-forming properties. This PA-RGDS-mediated transplantation of hPSC-ECs can serve as a novel platform for cell-based therapy and investigation of long-term behavior of hPSC-ECs.
Project description:The epicardium has emerged as a multipotent cardiovascular progenitor source with therapeutic potential for coronary smooth muscle cell, cardiac fibroblast (CF) and cardiomyocyte regeneration, owing to its fundamental role in heart development and its potential ability to initiate myocardial repair in injured adult tissues. Here, we describe a chemically defined method for generating epicardium and epicardium-derived smooth muscle cells (EPI-SMCs) and CFs from human pluripotent stem cells (HPSCs) through an intermediate lateral plate mesoderm (LM) stage. HPSCs were initially differentiated to LM in the presence of FGF2 and high levels of BMP4. The LM was robustly differentiated to an epicardial lineage by activation of WNT, BMP and retinoic acid signalling pathways. HPSC-derived epicardium displayed enhanced expression of epithelial- and epicardium-specific markers, exhibited morphological features comparable with human foetal epicardial explants and engrafted in the subepicardial space in vivo. The in vitro-derived epicardial cells underwent an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition when treated with PDGF-BB and TGF?1, resulting in vascular SMCs that displayed contractile ability in response to vasoconstrictors. Furthermore, the EPI-SMCs displayed low density lipoprotein uptake and effective lowering of lipoprotein levels upon treatment with statins, similar to primary human coronary artery SMCs. Cumulatively, these findings suggest that HPSC-derived epicardium and EPI-SMCs could serve as important tools for studying human cardiogenesis, and as a platform for vascular disease modelling and drug screening.
Project description:RATIONALE:Elastin is an important ECM (extracellular matrix) protein in large and small arteries. Vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) produce the layered elastic laminae found in elastic arteries but synthesize little elastin in muscular arteries. However, muscular arteries have a well-defined internal elastic lamina (IEL) that separates endothelial cells (ECs) from SMCs. The extent to which ECs contribute elastin to the IEL is unknown. OBJECTIVE:To use targeted elastin (Eln) deletion in mice to explore the relative contributions of SMCs and ECs to elastic laminae formation in different arteries. METHODS AND RESULTS:We used SMC- and EC-specific Cre recombinase transgenes with a novel floxed Eln allele to focus gene inactivation in mice. Inactivation of Eln in SMCs using Sm22aCre resulted in depletion of elastic laminae in the arterial wall with the exception of the IEL and SMC clusters in the outer media near the adventitia. Inactivation of elastin in ECs using Tie2Cre or Cdh5Cre resulted in normal medial elastin and a typical IEL in elastic arteries. In contrast, the IEL was absent or severely disrupted in muscular arteries. Interruptions in the IEL resulted in neointimal formation in the ascending aorta but not in muscular arteries. CONCLUSIONS:Combined with lineage-specific fate mapping systems, our knockout results document an unexpected heterogeneity in vascular cells that produce the elastic laminae. SMCs and ECs can independently form an IEL in most elastic arteries, whereas ECs are the major source of elastin for the IEL in muscular and resistance arteries. Neointimal formation at IEL disruptions in the ascending aorta confirms that the IEL is a critical physical barrier between SMCs and ECs in the large elastic arteries. Our studies provide new information about how SMCs and ECs contribute elastin to the arterial wall and how local elastic laminae defects may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
Project description:Local modulation of vascular mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling reduces smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation after endovascular interventions but may be associated with endothelial cell (EC) toxicity. The trilaminate vascular architecture juxtaposes ECs and SMCs to enable complex paracrine coregulation but shields SMCs from flow. We hypothesized that flow differentially affects mTOR signaling in ECs and SMCs and that SMCs regulate mTOR in ECs.SMCs and/or ECs were exposed to coronary artery flow in a perfusion bioreactor. We demonstrated by flow cytometry, immunofluorescence, and immunoblotting that EC expression of phospho-S6 ribosomal protein (p-S6RP), a downstream target of mTOR, was doubled by flow. Conversely, S6RP in SMCs was growth factor but not flow responsive, and SMCs eliminated the flow sensitivity of ECs. Temsirolimus, a sirolimus analog, eliminated the effect of growth factor on SMCs and of flow on ECs, reducing p-S6RP below basal levels and inhibiting endothelial recovery. EC p-S6RP expression in stented porcine arteries confirmed our in vitro findings: Phosphorylation was greatest in ECs farthest from intact SMCs in metal stented arteries and altogether absent after sirolimus stent elution.The mTOR pathway is activated in ECs in response to luminal flow. SMCs inhibit this flow-induced stimulation of endothelial mTOR pathway. Thus, we now define a novel external stimulus regulating phosphorylation of S6RP and another level of EC-SMC crosstalk. These interactions may explain the impact of local antiproliferative delivery that targets SMC proliferation and suggest that future stents integrate design influences on flow and drug effects on their molecular targets.
Project description:Phenotypic modulation of smooth muscle cells (SMCs), which are located in close proximity to endothelial cells (ECs), is critical in regulating vascular function. The role of flow-induced shear stress in the modulation of SMC phenotype has not been well defined.The objective was to elucidate the role of shear stress on ECs in modulating SMC phenotype and its underlying mechanism.Application of shear stress (12 dyn/cm2) to ECs cocultured with SMCs modulated SMC phenotype from synthetic to contractile state, with upregulation of contractile markers, downregulation of proinflammatory genes, and decreased percentage of cells in the synthetic phase. Treating SMCs with media from sheared ECs induced peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-alpha, -delta, and -gamma ligand binding activities; transfecting SMCs with specific small interfering (si)RNAs of PPAR-alpha and -delta, but not -gamma, inhibited shear induction of contractile markers. ECs exposed to shear stress released prostacyclin (PGI2). Transfecting ECs with PGI2 synthase-specific siRNA inhibited shear-induced activation of PPAR-alpha/delta, upregulation of contractile markers, downregulation of proinflammatory genes, and decrease in percentage of SMCs in synthetic phase. Mice with PPAR-alpha deficiency (compared with control littermates) showed altered SMC phenotype toward a synthetic state, with increased arterial contractility in response to angiotensin II.These results indicate that laminar shear stress induces synthetic-to-contractile phenotypic modulation in SMCs through the activation of PPAR-alpha/delta by the EC-released PGI2. Our findings provide insights into the mechanisms underlying the EC-SMC interplays and the protective homeostatic function of laminar shear stress in modulating SMC phenotype.
Project description:Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and endothelial cells (ECs) are typically derived separately, with low efficiencies, from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). The concurrent generation of these cell types might lead to potential applications in regenerative medicine to model, elucidate, and eventually treat vascular diseases. Here we report a robust two-step protocol that can be used to simultaneously generate large numbers of functional SMCs and ECs from a common proliferative vascular progenitor population via a two-dimensional culture system. We show here that coculturing hPSCs with OP9 cells in media supplemented with vascular endothelial growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, and bone morphogenetic protein 4 yields a higher percentage of CD31(+)CD34(+) cells on day 8 of differentiation. Upon exposure to endothelial differentiation media and SM differentiation media, these vascular progenitors were able to differentiate and mature into functional endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells, respectively. Furthermore, we were able to expand the intermediate population more than a billion fold to generate sufficient numbers of ECs and SMCs in parallel for potential therapeutic transplantations.
Project description:Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), a serine protease inhibitor that promotes and inhibits cell migration, plays a complex and important role in adverse vascular remodeling. Little is known about the effects of pharmacological PAI-1 inhibitors, an emerging drug class, on migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and endothelial cells (ECs), crucial mediators of vascular remodeling. We investigated the effects of PAI-039 (tiplaxtinin), a specific PAI-1 inhibitor, on SMC and EC migration in vitro and vascular remodeling in vivo.PAI-039 inhibited SMC migration through collagen gels, including those supplemented with vitronectin and other extracellular matrix proteins, but did not inhibit migration of PAI-1-deficient SMCs, suggesting that its antimigratory effects were PAI-1-specific and physiologically relevant. However, PAI-039 did not inhibit EC migration. PAI-039 inhibited phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of signal transducers and activators of transcription-1 in SMCs, but had no discernable effect on signal transducer and activator of transcription-1 signaling in ECs. Expression of low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1, a motogenic PAI-1 receptor that activates Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription-1 signaling, was markedly lower in ECs than in SMCs. Notably, PAI-039 significantly inhibited intimal hyperplasia and inflammation in murine models of adverse vascular remodeling, but did not adversely affect re-endothelialization after endothelium-denuding mechanical vascular injury.PAI-039 inhibits SMC migration and intimal hyperplasia, while having no inhibitory effect on ECs, which seems to be because of differences in PAI-1-dependent low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1/Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription-1 signaling between SMCs and ECs. These findings suggest that PAI-1 may be an important therapeutic target in obstructive vascular diseases characterized by neointimal hyperplasia.