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1.  Hypoxia Promotes Osteogenesis but Suppresses Adipogenesis of Human Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in a Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 Dependent Manner 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46483.
Bone fracture initiates a series of cellular and molecular events including the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1. HIF-1 is known to facilitate recruitment and differentiation of multipotent human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSC). Therefore, we analyzed the impact of hypoxia and HIF-1 on the competitive differentiation potential of hMSCs towards adipogenic and osteogenic lineages.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Bone marrow derived primary hMSCs cultured for 2 weeks either under normoxic (app. 18% O2) or hypoxic (less than 2% O2) conditions were analyzed for the expression of MSC surface markers and for expression of the genes HIF1A, VEGFA, LDHA, PGK1, and GLUT1. Using conditioned medium, adipogenic or osteogenic differentiation as verified by Oil-Red-O or von-Kossa staining was induced in hMSCs under either normoxic or hypoxic conditions. The expression of HIF1A and VEGFA was measured by qPCR. A knockdown of HIF-1α by lentiviral transduction was performed, and the ability of the transduced hMSCs to differentiate into adipogenic and osteogenic lineages was analyzed. Hypoxia induced HIF-1α and HIF-1 target gene expression, but did not alter MSC phenotype or surface marker expression. Hypoxia (i) suppressed adipogenesis and associated HIF1A and PPARG gene expression in hMSCs and (ii) enhanced osteogenesis and associated HIF1A and RUNX2 gene expression. shRNA-mediated knockdown of HIF-1α enhanced adipogenesis under both normoxia and hypoxia, and suppressed hypoxia-induced osteogenesis.
Hypoxia promotes osteogenesis but suppresses adipogenesis of human MSCs in a competitive and HIF-1-dependent manner. We therefore conclude that the effects of hypoxia are crucial for effective bone healing, which may potentially lead to the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3459928  PMID: 23029528
2.  Hypoxic Preconditioning Results in Increased Motility and Improved Therapeutic Potential of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2008;26(8):2173-2182.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are adult multipotent cells found in bone marrow, adipose tissue, and other adult tissues. MSC have been shown to improve regeneration of injured tissues in vivo, but the mechanisms remain unclear. Typically, MSC are cultured under ambient, or normoxic, conditions (21% oxygen). However, the physiological niches for MSC in the bone marrow and other sites have much lower oxygen tension. When used as a therapeutic tool to repair tissue injuries, MSC cultured in standard conditions must adapt from 21% oxygen in culture to less than 1% oxygen in the ischemic tissue. We therefore examined the effects of preculturing human bone marrow-derived MSC in hypoxic conditions (1%–3% oxygen) to elucidate the best conditions that enhance their tissue regenerative potential. We demonstrated that MSC cultured in hypoxia activate the Akt signaling pathway while maintaining their viability and cell cycle rates. We also showed that MSC cultured in hypoxia induced expression of cMet, the major receptor for hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and enhanced cMet signaling. MSC cultured in hypoxic conditions increased their migration rates. Since migration and HGF responsiveness are thought to be key mediators of MSC recruitment and/or activation in vivo, we next examined the tissue regenerative potential of MSC cultured under hypoxic conditions, using a murine hind limb ischemia model. We showed that local expression of HGF is increased in ischemic muscle in this model. Intra-arterial injection of MSC cultured in either normoxic or hypoxic conditions 24 hours after surgical induction of hind limb ischemia enhanced revascularization compared with saline controls. However, restoration of blood flow was observed significantly earlier in mice that had been injected with hypoxic preconditioned MSC. Collectively, these data suggest that preculturing MSC under hypoxic conditions prior to transplantation improves their tissue regenerative potential.
PMCID: PMC3017477  PMID: 18511601
Immune-deficient mice; Human stem cells; Mesenchymal stem cells; Hypoxia; Transplantation; Tissue repair
3.  Short-Term Exposure of Multipotent Stromal Cells to Low Oxygen Increases Their Expression of CX3CR1 and CXCR4 and Their Engraftment In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(5):e416.
The ability of stem/progenitor cells to migrate and engraft into host tissues is key to their potential use in gene and cell therapy. Among the cells of interest are the adherent cells from bone marrow, referred to as mesenchymal stem cells or multipotent stromal cells (MSC). Since the bone marrow environment is hypoxic, with oxygen tensions ranging from 1% to 7%, we decided to test whether hypoxia can upregulate chemokine receptors and enhance the ability of human MSCs to engraft in vivo. Short-term exposure of MSCs to 1% oxygen increased expression of the chemokine receptors CX3CR1and CXCR4, both as mRNA and as protein. After 1-day exposure to low oxygen, MSCs increased in vitro migration in response to the fractalkine and SDF-1α in a dose dependent manner. Blocking antibodies for the chemokine receptors significantly decreased the migration. Xenotypic grafting into early chick embryos demonstrated cells from hypoxic cultures engrafted more efficiently than cells from normoxic cultures and generated a variety of cell types in host tissues. The results suggest that short-term culture of MSCs under hypoxic conditions may provide a general method of enhancing their engraftment in vivo into a variety of tissues.
PMCID: PMC1855077  PMID: 17476338
4.  shRNA-Mediated Decreases in c-Met Levels Affect the Differentiation Potential of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Reduce Their Capacity for Tissue Repair 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2010;16(8):2627-2639.
Mesenchymal stem cells/marrow stromal cells (MSC) are adult multipotent cells that can augment tissue repair. We previously demonstrated that culturing MSC in hypoxic conditions causes upregulation of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) receptor c-Met, allowing them to respond more robustly to HGF. MSC preconditioned in hypoxic environments contributed to restoration of blood flow after an ischemic injury more rapidly than MSC cultured in normoxic conditions. We now investigated the specific role of HGF/c-Met signaling in MSC function. An shRNA-mediated knockdown (KD) of c-Met in MSC did not alter their phenotypic profile, proliferation, or viability in vitro. However, we determined that while HGF/c-Met signaling does not play a role in the adipogenic differentiation of the cells, the disruption of this signaling pathway inhibited the ability of MSC to differentiate into the osteogenic and chondrogenic lineages. We next assessed the impact of c-Met KD on human MSC function in a xenogeneic hindlimb ischemia injury model. A 70% KD of c-Met in MSC resulted in a significant decrease in their capacity to regenerate blood flow to the ischemic limb, as compared to the MSC transduced with control shRNA. MSC with only a 60% KD of c-Met exhibited an intermediate capacity to restore blood flow, suggesting that MSC function is sensitive to the dosage of c-Met signaling. The current study highlights the significance of HGF/c-Met signaling in the capacity of MSC to restore blood flow after an ischemic injury and in their ability to differentiate into the osteogenic and chondrogenic lineages.
PMCID: PMC2947453  PMID: 20367286
5.  Hypoxia Impedes Vasculogenesis of In Vitro Engineered Bone 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2011;18(1-2):208-218.
To ensure the survival of engineered bone after implantation, we combined human endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs) and multipotent stromal cells (MSCs) as a proof of concept in a co-culture model to create in vitro prevascularized bone constructs. We hypothesized that a hypoxic stimulus will contribute to prevascularization of engineered bone. Bone marrow-derived MSCs and ECFCs from human adult peripheral blood were allowed to form co-culture pellets containing ECFCs and MSCs (1:4) or MSCs only in controls. After culture under normoxia or hypoxia (5%), pellets were harvested and processed for immunohistochemistry of CD31, α-smooth muscle actin, and osteocalcin. Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and SDF-1α was analyzed by PCR to elucidate their involvement in hypoxic stimulation of prevascularization. The normoxic condition in co-cultures of MSCs and ECFCs supported the formation and maintenance of prevascular structures, including organized CD31-positive cells embraced by differentiated mural cells. These structures failed to form in hypoxic conditions, thereby rejecting the hypothesis that hypoxia stimulates prevasculogenesis in three-dimensional engineered bone constructs. Further, the formation of prevascular structures was paralleled by increased SDF-1α expression. It is suggested that actual oxygen levels were below 5% in the hypoxic co-cultures, which prevented prevascular structure formation. In conclusion, our normoxic co-culture model containing cells from clinically relevant sources sustained simultaneous endothelial, smooth muscle, and osteogenic differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3246420  PMID: 21859278
6.  Hypoxic Conditioned Medium from Human Amniotic Fluid-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Accelerates Skin Wound Healing through TGF-β/SMAD2 and PI3K/Akt Pathways 
In a previous study, we isolated human amniotic fluid (AF)-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AF-MSCs) and utilized normoxic conditioned medium (AF-MSC-norCM) which has been shown to accelerate cutaneous wound healing. Because hypoxia enhances the wound healing function of mesenchymal stem cell-conditioned medium (MSC-CM), it is interesting to explore the mechanism responsible for the enhancement of wound healing function. In this work, hypoxia not only increased the proliferation of AF-MSCs but also maintained their constitutive characteristics (surface marker expression and differentiation potentials). Notably, more paracrine factors, VEGF and TGF-β1, were secreted into hypoxic conditioned medium from AF-MSCs (AF-MSC-hypoCM) compared to AF-MSC-norCM. Moreover, AF-MSC-hypoCM enhanced the proliferation and migration of human dermal fibroblasts in vitro, and wound closure in a skin injury model, as compared to AF-MSC-norCM. However, the enhancement of migration of fibroblasts accelerated by AF-MSC-hypoCM was inhibited by SB505124 and LY294002, inhibitors of TGF-β/SMAD2 and PI3K/AKT, suggesting that AF-MSC-hypoCM-enhanced wound healing is mediated by the activation of TGF-β/SMAD2 and PI3K/AKT. Therefore, AF-MSC-hypoCM enhances wound healing through the increase of hypoxia-induced paracrine factors via activation of TGF-β/SMAD2 and PI3K/AKT pathways.
PMCID: PMC3907828  PMID: 24398984
hypoxia; amniotic fluid-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AF-MSCs); wound healing; PI3K/AKT; TGF-β/SMAD2
7.  EGFR Ligands Drive Multipotential Stromal Cells to Produce Multiple Growth Factors and Cytokines via Early Growth Response-1 
Stem Cells and Development  2012;21(13):2541-2551.
Cell therapy with adult bone marrow multipotential stromal cells/mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) presents a promising approach to promote wound healing and tissue regeneration. The strong paracrine capability of various growth factors and cytokines is a key mechanism of MSC-mediated wound healing and tissue regeneration, and the goal of this study is to understand the underlying mechanism that supports the strong paracrine machineries in MSCs. Microarray database analyses revealed that early growth response-1 (EGR1) is highly expressed in MSCs. Our previous studies showed that epidermal growth factor (EGF) treatment induces growth factor production in MSCs in vitro. Since EGF strongly upregulates EGR1, we hypothesized that EGF receptor (EGFR)–EGR1 signaling plays a pivotal role in MSC paracrine activity. EGF treatment upregulated the gene expression of growth factors and cytokines, including EGFR ligands in a protein kinase C (PKC)- and/or mitogen-activated protein kinase–extracellular-signal-regulated kinase-dependent manner, and it was reversed by shRNA against EGR1. PKC activator phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate enhanced EGFR tyrosyl phosphorylation and upregulated the gene expression of growth factors and cytokines in a heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HBEGF) inhibitor CRM197 sensitive manner, indicating an involvement of autocrined HBEGF in the downstream of PKC signaling. Moreover, stimulation with growth factors and cytokines induced the expression of EGFR ligands, presumably via EGR1 upregulation. These data indicate EGR1 as a convergence point of multiple signaling pathways, which in turn augments the production of multiple growth factors and cytokines by enhancing the autocrine signaling with EGFR ligands.
PMCID: PMC3424970  PMID: 22316125
8.  Constitutive stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor alpha selectively promotes the self-renewal of mesenchymal progenitors and maintains mesenchymal stromal cells in an undifferentiated state 
With the increasing use of culture-expanded mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) for cell therapies, factors that regulate the cellular characteristics of MSCs have been of major interest. Oxygen concentration has been shown to influence the functions of MSCs, as well as other normal and malignant stem cells. However, the underlying mechanisms of hypoxic responses and the precise role of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (Hif-1α), the master regulatory protein of hypoxia, in MSCs remain unclear, due to the limited span of Hif-1α stabilization and the complex network of hypoxic responses. In this study, to further define the significance of Hif-1α in MSC function during their self-renewal and terminal differentiation, we established adult bone marrow (BM)-derived MSCs that are able to sustain high level expression of ubiquitin-resistant Hif-1α during such long-term biological processes. Using this model, we show that the stabilization of Hif-1α proteins exerts a selective influence on colony-forming mesenchymal progenitors promoting their self-renewal and proliferation, without affecting the proliferation of the MSC mass population. Moreover, Hif-1α stabilization in MSCs led to the induction of pluripotent genes (oct-4 and klf-4) and the inhibition of their terminal differentiation into osteogenic and adipogenic lineages. These results provide insights into the previously unrecognized roles of Hif-1α proteins in maintaining the primitive state of primary MSCs and on the cellular heterogeneities in hypoxic responses among MSC populations.
PMCID: PMC3789268  PMID: 24071737
Hif-1α; hypoxia; MSC; self-renewal
9.  Paracrine Factors of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Recruit Macrophages and Endothelial Lineage Cells and Enhance Wound Healing 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(4):e1886.
Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) have been shown to enhance wound healing; however, the mechanisms involved are barely understood. In this study, we examined paracrine factors released by BM-MSCs and their effects on the cells participating in wound healing compared to those released by dermal fibroblasts. Analyses of BM-MSCs with Real-Time PCR and of BM-MSC-conditioned medium by antibody-based protein array and ELISA indicated that BM-MSCs secreted distinctively different cytokines and chemokines, such as greater amounts of VEGF-α, IGF-1, EGF, keratinocyte growth factor, angiopoietin-1, stromal derived factor-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha and beta and erythropoietin, compared to dermal fibroblasts. These molecules are known to be important in normal wound healing. BM-MSC-conditioned medium significantly enhanced migration of macrophages, keratinocytes and endothelial cells and proliferation of keratinocytes and endothelial cells compared to fibroblast-conditioned medium. Moreover, in a mouse model of excisional wound healing, where concentrated BM-MSC-conditioned medium was applied, accelerated wound healing occurred compared to administration of pre-conditioned or fibroblast-conditioned medium. Analysis of cell suspensions derived from the wound by FACS showed that wounds treated with BM-MSC-conditioned medium had increased proportions of CD4/80-postive macrophages and Flk-1-, CD34- or c-kit-positive endothelial (progenitor) cells compared to wounds treated with pre-conditioned medium or fibroblast-conditioned medium. Consistent with the above findings, immunohistochemical analysis of wound sections showed that wounds treated with BM-MSC-conditioned medium had increased abundance of macrophages. Our results suggest that factors released by BM-MSCs recruit macrophages and endothelial lineage cells into the wound thus enhancing wound healing.
PMCID: PMC2270908  PMID: 18382669
10.  Long term culture of mesenchymal stem cells in hypoxia promotes a genetic program maintaining their undifferentiated and multipotent status 
BMC Cell Biology  2011;12:12.
In the bone marrow, hematopietic and mesenchymal stem cells form a unique niche in which the oxygen tension is low. Hypoxia may have a role in maintaining stem cell fate, self renewal and multipotency. However, whereas most studies addressed the effect of transient in vitro exposure of MSC to hypoxia, permanent culture under hypoxia should reflect the better physiological conditions.
Morphologic studies, differentiation and transcriptional profiling experiments were performed on MSC cultured in normoxia (21% O2) versus hypoxia (5% O2) for up to passage 2. Cells at passage 0 and at passage 2 were compared, and those at passage 0 in hypoxia generated fewer and smaller colonies than in normoxia. In parallel, MSC displayed (>4 fold) inhibition of genes involved in DNA metabolism, cell cycle progression and chromosome cohesion whereas transcripts involved in adhesion and metabolism (CD93, ESAM, VWF, PLVAP, ANGPT2, LEP, TCF1) were stimulated. Compared to normoxic cells, hypoxic cells were morphologically undifferentiated and contained less mitochondrias. After this lag phase, cells at passage 2 in hypoxia outgrew the cells cultured in normoxia and displayed an enhanced expression of genes (4-60 fold) involved in extracellular matrix assembly (SMOC2), neural and muscle development (NOG, GPR56, SNTG2, LAMA) and epithelial development (DMKN). This group described herein for the first time was assigned by the Gene Ontology program to "plasticity".
The duration of hypoxemia is a critical parameter in the differentiation capacity of MSC. Even in growth promoting conditions, hypoxia enhanced a genetic program that maintained the cells undifferentiated and multipotent. This condition may better reflect the in vivo gene signature of MSC, with potential implications in regenerative medicine.
PMCID: PMC3073900  PMID: 21450070
11.  HIF-1α Overexpression Induces Angiogenesis in Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
BioResearch Open Access  2012;1(4):174-183.
Stem cell therapy continues to be an innovative and promising strategy for heart failure. Stem cell injection alone, however, is hampered by poor cell survival and differentiation. This study was aimed to explore the possibility of improving stem cell therapy through genetic modification of stem cells, in order for them to promote angiogenesis in an auto- and paracrine manner under hypoxic conditions. Hypoxia inducible factor-1α was overexpressed in bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) by stable transduction using a lentiviral vector. Under hypoxic and normoxic conditions, the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) concentration in the cells' supernatant was measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Migration was assayed by wound healing and c-Met expression by flow cytometry. Tube formation was evaluated on a Matrigel basement membrane. The concentration of VEGF was significantly increased in the supernatant of HIF-1α–overexpressing MSCs; this medium was significantly more effective in inducing endothelial cell migration compared to untransduced MSCs. Transduced cells showed increased levels of c-Met expression and were more efficient at tube formation. However, no indication of differentiation toward an endothelial phenotype was observed. This study indicated that genetic modification of MSCs by HIF-1α overexpression has the potential to improve components of the angiogenesis process under a hypoxic condition by paracrine and autocrine mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3559201  PMID: 23514846
angiogenesis; hypoxia; HIF-1α; mesenchymal stem cells
12.  Effect of hypoxia on equine mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow and adipose tissue 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from bone marrow (BM-MSCs) and adipose tissue (AT-MSCs) are being applied to equine cell therapy. The physiological environment in which MSCs reside is hypoxic and does not resemble the oxygen level typically used in in vitro culture (20% O2). This work compares the growth kinetics, viability, cell cycle, phenotype and expression of pluripotency markers in both equine BM-MSCs and AT-MSCs at 5% and 20% O2.
At the conclusion of culture, fewer BM-MSCs were obtained in hypoxia than in normoxia as a result of significantly reduced cell division. Hypoxic AT-MSCs proliferated less than normoxic AT-MSCs because of a significantly higher presence of non-viable cells during culture. Flow cytometry analysis revealed that the immunophenotype of both MSCs was maintained in both oxygen conditions. Gene expression analysis using RT-qPCR showed that statistically significant differences were only found for CD49d in BM-MSCs and CD44 in AT-MSCs. Similar gene expression patterns were observed at both 5% and 20% O2 for the remaining surface markers. Equine MSCs expressed the embryonic markers NANOG, OCT4 and SOX2 in both oxygen conditions. Additionally, hypoxic cells tended to display higher expression, which might indicate that hypoxia retains equine MSCs in an undifferentiated state.
Hypoxia attenuates the proliferative capacity of equine MSCs, but does not affect the phenotype and seems to keep them more undifferentiated than normoxic MSCs.
PMCID: PMC3483288  PMID: 22913590
Hypoxia; Horse; AT-MSC; BM-MSC; Characterisation
13.  Low physiologic oxygen tensions reduce proliferation and differentiation of human multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2010;11:11.
Human multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) can be isolated from various tissues including bone marrow. Here, MSC participate as bone lining cells in the formation of the hematopoietic stem cell niche. In this compartment, the oxygen tension is low and oxygen partial pressure is estimated to range from 1% to 7%. We analyzed the effect of low oxygen tensions on human MSC cultured with platelet-lysate supplemented media and assessed proliferation, morphology, chromosomal stability, immunophenotype and plasticity.
After transferring MSC from atmospheric oxygen levels of 21% to 1%, HIF-1α expression was induced, indicating efficient oxygen reduction. Simultaneously, MSC exhibited a significantly different morphology with shorter extensions and broader cell bodies. MSC did not proliferate as rapidly as under 21% oxygen and accumulated in G1 phase. The immunophenotype, however, was unaffected. Hypoxic stress as well as free oxygen radicals may affect chromosomal stability. However, no chromosomal abnormalities in human MSC under either culture condition were detected using high-resolution matrix-based comparative genomic hybridization. Reduced oxygen tension severely impaired adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation of human MSC. Elevation of oxygen from 1% to 3% restored osteogenic differentiation.
Physiologic oxygen tension during in vitro culture of human MSC slows down cell cycle progression and differentiation. Under physiological conditions this may keep a proportion of MSC in a resting state. Further studies are needed to analyze these aspects of MSC in tissue regeneration.
PMCID: PMC2827377  PMID: 20109207
Marrow Stromal Cells (MSCs) are relatively rare cells difficult to visualize in marrow biopsies or detect in aspirated marrow. Under specific conditions MSC can be expanded in vitro and the population can give rise to several mesenchymal lineages. “MSC” also refers to mesenchymal stem cells which implies that all cells in the population are multipotent. It is generally agreed that while there may be a few multipotent stem cells in an MSC population the majority are not stem cells. In either case MSC do not produce hematopoietic cells. Although MSCs have been isolated and characterized from several tissues, bone marrow is their most common source for research and clinical use. Primary MSC populations can be derived from bone marrow mononuclear cells with relative ease, but it is important to recognize the cellular heterogeneity within a culture and how this may vary from donor to donor. In this chapter, we will describe methodology to derive primary MSCs from bone marrow screens, an otherwise discarded byproduct of bone marrow harvests used for clinical transplantation. We will also describe some useful techniques to characterize and manipulate MSCs – both primary and immortalized cell lines.
PMCID: PMC3748384  PMID: 23959984
Marrow Stromal Cells (MSCs); bone marrow-screen; reverse-transfection; FACS; AutoMACS; CD146; siRNA; miRNA; LTC (Long Term Culture)
15.  Increased Proliferation and Analysis of Differential Gene Expression in Human Wharton's Jelly-derived Mesenchymal Stromal Cells under Hypoxia 
Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) from Wharton's jelly (WJ) of umbilical cord bear higher proliferation rate and self-renewal capacity than adult tissue-derived MSCs and are a primitive stromal cell population. Stem cell niche or physiological microenvironment plays a crucial role in maintenance of stem cell properties and oxygen concentration is an important component of the stem cell niche. Low oxygen tension or hypoxia is prevalent in the microenvironment of embryonic stem cells and many adult stem cells at early stages of development. Again, in vivo, MSCs are known to home specifically to hypoxic events following tissue injuries. Here we examined the effect of hypoxia on proliferation and in vitro differentiation potential of WJ-MSCs. Under hypoxia, WJ-MSCs exhibited improved proliferative potential while maintaining multi-lineage differentiation potential and surface marker expression. Hypoxic WJ-MSCs expressed higher mRNA levels of hypoxia inducible factors, notch receptors and notch downstream gene HES1. Gene expression profile of WJ-MSCs exposed to hypoxia and normoxia was compared and we identified a differential gene expression pattern where several stem cells markers and early mesodermal/endothelial genes such as DESMIN, CD34, ACTC were upregulated under hypoxia, suggesting that in vitro culturing of WJ-MSCs under hypoxic conditions leads to adoption of a mesodermal/endothelial fate. Thus, we demonstrate for the first time the effect of hypoxia on gene expression and growth kinetics of WJ-MSCs. Finally, although WJ-MSCs do not induce teratomas, under stressful and long-term culture conditions, MSCs can occasionally undergo transformation. Though there were no chromosomal abnormalities, certain transformation markers were upregulated in a few of the samples of WJ-MSCs under hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC2945278  PMID: 20877435
Hypoxia; Wharton's jelly; Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs); Transcription; Transformation markers; Cell proliferation.
16.  The Primary Cilium as a Biomarker in the Hypoxic Adaptation of Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stromal Cells: A Role for the Secreted Frizzled-Related Proteins 
Biomarker Insights  2011;6:107-118.
A pivotal role in guiding mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) differentiation has recently been attributed to the primary cilium. This solitary, non-motile microtubule-based organelle emerging from the cell surface acts as a sensorial membrane structure reflecting developmental and adaptive processes associated with pathologies including human cystic kidney disease, skeletal malformations, obesity and cancer. Given that the intrinsic hypoxic adaptation of MSC remains poorly understood within ischemic tissues or hypoxic tumours, we questioned whether the hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) might be a downstream effector regulating cilium maintenance. We show that murine bone marrow-derived MSC cultured under hypoxic conditions (1.2% O2) lose their primary cilia in a time-dependent manner. Gene silencing of HIF-1α prevented cilia loss in hypoxic cultures, and generation of MSC expressing a constitutively active HIF-1α (MSC-HIF) was found to decrease primary cilium formation. A Wnt pathway-related gene expression array was also performed on MSC-HIF and indicated that the secreted Frizzled-related proteins (sFRP)-1, -3 and -4 were down-regulated, while sFRP-2 was up-regulated. Overexpression of recombinant sFRP-2 or gene silencing of sFRP-1, -3 and -4 in MSC led to primary cilium disruption. These results indicate a molecular signalling mechanism for the hypoxic disruption of the primary cilium in MSC involving an HIF-1α/sFRP axis. This mechanism contributes to our understanding of the adaptive processes possibly involved in the oncogenic transformation and tumour-supporting potential of MSC. Our current observations also open up the possibility for the primary cilia to serve as a biomarker in MSC adaptation to low oxygen tension within (patho)physiological microenvironments.
PMCID: PMC3201088  PMID: 22084569
cilia; hypoxia; mesenchymal stem cells; hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)
17.  The Effect of miR-210 Up-regulation on Proliferation and Survival of Mouse Bone Marrow Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cell 
Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a population of multipotent progenitors which have the capacity of proliferation and differentiation into mesenchymal lineage cells. Hypoxia could promote the proliferation of MSCs. Micro-RNAs are endogenous RNAs that can play an important role in some processes such as proliferation and differentiation. MiR-210 could help for better proliferation of MSCs since this miRNA could activate HIF pathway. In current study we investigated if MSCs can preserve their differentiation and proliferation ability under normoxic conditions by upregulation of miR-210.
Materials and Methods
MSCs isolated from C57 BL/6 mice by flushing it's femurs into the cell culture media. After 72 hours, MSCs which are plastic adherent cells were attached to the flask and non-adherent cells were removed. Subsequently, MSCs induced to differentiate into osteocytes and adipocytes with specific differentiation media in order to confirm their identity and multipotency. Then miR-210 was inserted in Lentiviruse vectors and affected MSCs. In each passage, the number and viability of cells were evaluated.
Comparison between miR-210 infected MSCs with control cells showed that miR-210 has ability to increase proliferation of MSCs significantly.
We showed that miR-210 has ability to induce proliferation of MSCs without any negative effect on their differentiation abilities. Further studies are needed for evaluation of probable effects of miR-210 mechanisms on MSCs proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3913157  PMID: 24505547
Mesenchymal stem cells; MiR-210; HIF-1α
18.  Culture and Use of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Phase I and II Clinical Trials 
Stem Cells International  2010;2010:503593.
Present in numerous tissues, mesenchymal stem cells/multipotent stromal cells (MSCs) can differentiate into different cell types from a mesoderm origin. Their potential has been extended to pluripotency, by their possibility of differentiating into tissues and cells of nonmesodermic origin. Through the release of cytokines, growth factors and biologically active molecules, MSCs exert important paracrine effects during tissue repair and inflammation. Moreover, MSCs have immunosuppressive properties related to non-HLA restricted immunosuppressive capacities. All these features lead to an increasing range of possible applications of MSCs, from treating immunological diseases to tissue and organ repair, that should be tested in phase I and II clinical trials. The most widely used MSCs are cultured from bone marrow or adipose tissue. For clinical trial implementation, BM MSCs and ADSCs should be produced according to Good Manufacturing Practices. Safety remains the major concern and must be ensured during culture and validated with relevant controls. We describe some applications of MSCs in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2968415  PMID: 21052537
19.  Low Oxygen Tension Maintains Multipotency, Whereas Normoxia Increases Differentiation of Mouse Bone Marrow Stromal Cells 
Optimization of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) culture conditions is of great importance for their more successful application in regenerative medicine. O2 regulates various aspects of cellular biology and, in vivo, MSC are exposed to different O2 concentrations spanning from very low tension in the bone marrow niche, to higher amounts in wounds. In our present work, we isolated mouse bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) and showed that they contained a population meeting requirements for MSC definition. In order to establish the effect of low O2 on cellular properties, we examined BSMC cultured under hypoxic (3% O2) conditions. Our results demonstrate that 3% O2 augmented proliferation of BMSC, as well as the formation of colonies in the colony-forming unit assay (CFU-A), the percentage of quiescent cells, and the expression of stemness markers Rex-1 and Oct-4, thereby suggesting an increase in the stemness of culture when exposed to hypoxia. In contrast, intrinsic differentiation processes were inhibited by 3% O2. Overall yield of differentiation was dependent on the adjustment of O2 tension to the specific stage of BMSC culture. Thus, we established a strategy for efficient BMSC in vitro differentiation using an initial phase of cell propagation at 3% O2, followed by differentiation stage at 21% O2. We also demonstrated that 3% O2 affected BMSC differentiation in p53 and reactive oxygen species (ROS) independent pathways. Our findings can significantly contribute to the obtaining of high-quality MSC for effective cell therapy.
PMCID: PMC3565369  PMID: 23340651
hypoxia; mesenchymal stem cells; differentiation; oxygen; bone marrow stromal cells
20.  Factors Secreted by Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Endothelial Progenitor Cells Have Complementary Effects on Angiogenesis In Vitro 
Stem Cells and Development  2012;22(4):643-653.
Stem cell-based therapy for myocardial regeneration has reported several functional improvements that are attributed mostly to the paracrine effects stimulating angiogenesis and cell survival. This study was conducted to comparatively evaluate the potential of factors secreted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in normoxic and hypoxic conditions to promote tissue repair by sustaining endothelial cell (EC) adhesion and proliferation and conferring protection against apoptosis. To this aim, a conditioned medium (CM) was generated from MSCs after 24-h incubation in a serum-free normal or hypoxic environment. MSCs exhibited resistance to hypoxia, which induced increased secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and decreased levels of other cytokines, including stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF). The CM derived from normal (nMSC-CM) and hypoxic cells (hypMSC-CM) induced similar protective effects on H9c2 cells in hypoxia. Minor differences were noticed in the potential of normal versus hypoxic CM to promote angiogenesis, which were likely connected to SDFα and VEGF levels: the nMSC-CM was more effective in stimulating EC migration, whereas the hypMSC-CM had an enhanced effect on EC adhesion. However, the factors secreted by MSCs in normoxic or hypoxic conditions supported adhesion, but not proliferation, of ECs in vitro, as revealed by impedance-based dynamic assessments. Surprisingly, factors secreted by other stem/progenitor cells, such as endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), had complementary effects to the MSC-CM. Thus, the EPC-CM, in either a normal or hypoxic environment, supported EC proliferation, but did not sustain EC adhesion. Combined use of the MSC-CM and EPC-CM promoted both EC adhesion and proliferation, suggesting that the local angiogenesis at the site of ischemic injury might be better stimulated by simultaneous releasing of factors secreted by multiple stem/progenitor cell populations.
PMCID: PMC3564466  PMID: 22947186
21.  Exosomes Mediate the Cytoprotective Action of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells on Hypoxia-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension 
Circulation  2012;126(22):2601-2611.
Hypoxia induces an inflammatory response in the lung manifested by alternative activation of macrophages with elevation of pro-inflammatory mediators that are critical for the later development of hypoxic pulmonary hypertension (HPH). Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) transplantation inhibits lung inflammation, vascular remodeling and right heart failure, and reverses HPH in experimental models of disease. In this study, we aimed to investigate the paracrine mechanisms by which MSCs are protective in HPH.
Methods and Results
We fractionated mouse MSC-conditioned media to identify the biologically-active component affecting in vivo hypoxic signaling and determined that exosomes, secreted membrane microvesicles, suppressed the hypoxic pulmonary influx of macrophages and the induction of pro-inflammatory and pro-proliferative mediators, including monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and hypoxia-inducible mitogenic factor, in the murine model of HPH. Intravenous delivery of MSC-derived exosomes (MEX) inhibited vascular remodeling and HPH, whereas MEX-depleted media or fibroblast-derived exosomes had no effect. MEX suppressed the hypoxic activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and the upregulation of the miR-17 superfamily of microRNA clusters, whereas it increased lung levels of miR-204, a key microRNA whose expression is decreased in human PH. MEX produced by human umbilical cord MSCs inhibited STAT3 signaling in isolated human pulmonary artery endothelial cells demonstrating a direct effect of MEX on hypoxic vascular cells.
This study indicates that MEX exert a pleiotropic protective effect on the lung and inhibit PH through suppression of hyperproliferative pathways, including STAT-3 mediated signaling induced by hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC3979353  PMID: 23114789
hypertension; pulmonary; inflammation; hypoxia; signal transduction
22.  Isolation and multilineage differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells from abattoir-derived bovine fetuses 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are multipotent progenitor cells localized in the stromal compartment of the bone marrow (BM). The potential of MSC for mesenchymal differentiation has been well documented in different animal models predominantly on rodents. However, information regarding bovine MSC (bMSC) is limited, and the differentiation potential of bMSC derived from fetal BM remains unknown. In the present study we sought to isolate bMSC from abattoir-derived fetal BM and to characterize the multipotent and differentiation potential under osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic conditions by quantitative and qualitative analyses.
Plastic-adherent bMSC isolated from fetal BM maintained a fibroblast-like morphology under monolayer culture conditions. These cells expressed high levels of MSC surface markers (CD73, CD90, and CD105) and low levels of hematopoietic surface markers (CD34 and CD45). Culture of bMSC under osteogenic conditions during a 27-day period induced up-regulation of the osteocalcin (OC) gene expression and alkaline phosphatase (ALPL) activity, and promoted mineralization of the matrix. Increasing supplementation levels of ascorbic acid to culture media enhanced osteogenic differentiation of bMSC; whereas, reduction of FBS supplementation compromised osteogenesis. bMSC increased expression of cartilage-specific genes aggrecan (ACAN), collagen 2A1 (COL2A1) and SRY (sex-determining region Y) box 9 (SOX9) at Day 21 of chondrogenic differentiation. Treatment of bMSC with adipogenic factors increased levels of fatty acid-binding protein 2 (AP2) mRNA and accumulation of lipid vacuoles after 18 days of culture. NANOG mRNA levels in differentiating bMSC were not affected during adipogenic culture; however, osteogenic and chondrogenic conditions induced higher and lower levels, respectively.
Our analyses revealed the potential multilineage differentiation of bMSC isolated from abattoir-derived fetal BM. NANOG mRNA pattern in differentiating bMSC varied according to differentiation culture conditions. The osteogenic differentiation of bMSC was affected by ascorbic acid and FBS concentrations in culture media. The simplicity of isolation and the differentiation potential suggest that bMSC from abattoir-derived fetal BM are appropriate candidate for investigating MSC biology and for eventual applications for regenerative therapy.
PMCID: PMC3751243  PMID: 23826829
Mesenchymal stem cell; Bovine fetuses; Differentiation potential; Multipotency
23.  TGF-β-Neutralizing Antibody 1D11 Enhances Cytarabine-Induced Apoptosis in AML Cells in the Bone Marrow Microenvironment 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e62785.
Hypoxia and interactions with bone marrow (BM) stromal cells have emerged as essential components of the leukemic BM microenvironment in promoting leukemia cell survival and chemoresistance. High levels of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1) produced by BM stromal cells in the BM niche regulate cell proliferation, survival, and apoptosis, depending on the cellular context. Exogenous TGFβ1 induced accumulation of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells in a quiescent G0 state, which was further facilitated by the co-culture with BM-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In turn, TGFβ-neutralizing antibody 1D11 abrogated rhTGFβ1 induced cell cycle arrest. Blocking TGFβ with 1D11 further enhanced cytarabine (Ara-C)–induced apoptosis of AML cells in hypoxic and in normoxic conditions. Additional constituents of BM niche, the stroma-secreted chemokine CXCL12 and its receptor CXCR4 play crucial roles in cell migration and stroma/leukemia cell interactions. Treatment with 1D11 combined with CXCR4 antagonist plerixafor and Ara-C decreased leukemia burden and prolonged survival in an in vivo leukemia model. These results indicate that blockade of TGFβ by 1D11 and abrogation of CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling may enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy against AML cells in the hypoxic BM microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3695026  PMID: 23826077
24.  Cell Encapsulating Biomaterial Regulates Mesenchymal Stromal/Stem Cell Differentiation and Macrophage Immunophenotype 
Stem Cells Translational Medicine  2012;1(10):740-749.
In this study, the monocyte/macrophage (Mø) immunophenotype and mesenchymal stromal/stem cell (MSC) differentiation were examined with regard to established and experimental collagen-based biomaterials for MSC entrapment. Important three-way interactions were elucidated between Møs, MSCs, and encapsulating biomatrices, whose combined influences dictated the Mø immunophenotype and MSC multipotency, which are critical for developing effective MSC-biomaterial strategies for promoting tissue regeneration and healing.
Bone marrow mesenchymal stromal/stem cell (MSC) encapsulation within a biomatrix could improve cellular delivery and extend survival and residence time over conventional intravenous administration. Although MSCs modulate monocyte/macrophage (Mø) immunophenotypic properties, little is known about how such interactions are influenced when MSCs are entrapped within a biomaterial. Furthermore, the impact of the cell-encapsulating matrix on MSC multipotency and on Møs, which infiltrate biomaterials, remains poorly understood. Here we elucidate this three-way interaction. The Mø immunophenotype and MSC differentiation were examined with regard to established and experimental collagen-based biomaterials for MSC entrapment. Tumor necrosis factor-α secretion was acutely inhibited at 4 days. MSCs cocultured with Møs demonstrated attenuated chondrocyte differentiation, whereas osteoblast differentiation was enhanced. Adipocyte differentiation was considerably enhanced for MSCs entrapped within the gelatin/polyethylene glycol-based matrix. A better understanding of the effect of cell encapsulation on differentiation potency and immunomodulation of MSCs is essential for MSC-based, biomaterial-enabled therapies.
PMCID: PMC3659655  PMID: 23197666
Cell biology; Multipotential differentiation; Monocyte; Mesenchymal stem cells
25.  Musculoskeletal tissue engineering with human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells 
Regenerative medicine  2011;6(1):95-109.
Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) hold tremendous promise for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, yet with so many sources of MSCs, what are the primary criteria for selecting leading candidates? Ideally, the cells will be multipotent, inexpensive, lack donor site morbidity, donor materials should be readily available in large numbers, immunocompatible, politically benign and expandable in vitro for several passages. Bone marrow MSCs do not meet all of these criteria and neither do embryonic stem cells. However, a promising new cell source is emerging in tissue engineering that appears to meet these criteria: MSCs derived from Wharton’s jelly of umbilical cord MSCs. Exposed to appropriate conditions, umbilical cord MSCs can differentiate in vitro along several cell lineages such as the chondrocyte, osteoblast, adipocyte, myocyte, neuronal, pancreatic or hepatocyte lineages. In animal models, umbilical cord MSCs have demonstrated in vivo differentiation ability and promising immunocompatibility with host organs/tissues, even in xenotransplantation. In this article, we address their cellular characteristics, multipotent differentiation ability and potential for tissue engineering with an emphasis on musculoskeletal tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC3057462  PMID: 21175290
differentiation; musculoskeletal; regenerative medicine; umbilical cord stroma

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