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1.  Continuous Grading of Early Fibrosis in NAFLD Using Label-Free Imaging: A Proof-of-Concept Study 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0147804.
Background and Aims
Early detection of fibrosis is important in identifying individuals at risk for advanced liver disease in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We tested whether second-harmonic generation (SHG) and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy, detecting fibrillar collagen and fat in a label-free manner, might allow automated and sensitive quantification of early fibrosis in NAFLD.
We analyzed 32 surgical biopsies from patients covering histological fibrosis stages 0–4, using multimodal label-free microscopy. Native samples were visualized by SHG and CARS imaging for detecting fibrillar collagen and fat. Furthermore, we developed a method for quantitative assessment of early fibrosis using automated analysis of SHG signals.
We found that the SHG mean signal intensity correlated well with fibrosis stage and the mean CARS signal intensity with liver fat. Little overlap in SHG signal intensities between fibrosis stages 0 and 1 was observed. A specific fibrillar SHG signal was detected in the liver parenchyma outside portal areas in all samples histologically classified as having no fibrosis. This signal correlated with immunohistochemical location of fibrillar collagens I and III.
This study demonstrates that label-free SHG imaging detects fibrillar collagen deposition in NAFLD more sensitively than routine histological staging and enables observer-independent quantification of early fibrosis in NAFLD with continuous grading.
PMCID: PMC4726624  PMID: 26808140
2.  Osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stromal cells in two-dimensional and three-dimensional cultures without animal serum 
Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have been intensely studied for the purpose of developing solutions for clinical tissue engineering. Autologous MSCs can potentially be used to replace tissue defects, but the procedure also carries risks such as immunization and xenogeneic infection. Replacement of the commonly used fetal calf serum (FCS) with human platelet lysate and plasma (PLP) to support cell growth may reduce some of these risks. Altered media could, however, influence stem cell differentiation and we address this experimentally.
We examined human MSC differentiation into the osteoblast lineage using in vitro two- and three-dimensional cultures with PLP or FCS as cell culture medium supplements. Differentiation was followed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and alkaline phosphatase activity, matrix formation and matrix calcium content were quantified.
Three-dimensional culture, where human MSCs were grown on collagen sponges, markedly stimulated osteoblast differentiation; a fourfold increase in calcium deposition could be observed in both PLP and FCS groups. PLP-grown cells showed robust osteogenic differentiation both in two- and three-dimensional MSC cultures. The calcium content of the matrix in the two-dimensional PLP group at day 14 was 2.2-fold higher in comparison to the FCS group (p < 0.0001), and at day 21 it was still 1.3-fold higher (p < 0.001), suggesting earlier calcium accumulation to the matrix in the PLP group. This was supported by stronger Alizarin Red staining in the PLP group at day 14. In two-dimesional PLP cultures, cellular proliferation appeared to decrease during later stages of differentiation, while in the FCS group the number of cells increased throughout the experiment. In three-dimensional experiments, the PLP and FCS groups behaved more congruently, except for the alkaline phosphatase activity and mRNA levels which were markedly increased by PLP.
Human PLP was at least equal to FCS in supporting osteogenic differentiation of human MSCs in two- and three-dimensional conditions; however, proliferation was inferior. As PLP is free of animal components, and thus represents reduced risk for xenogeneic infection, its use for human MSC-induced bone repair in the clinic by the three-dimensional live implants presented here appears a promising therapy option.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13287-015-0162-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4562352  PMID: 26345992
3.  Toll-like receptors in human chondrocytes and osteoarthritic cartilage 
Acta Orthopaedica  2013;84(6):585-592.
Background and purpose
Degenerating cartilage releases potential danger signals that react with Toll-like receptor (TLR) type danger receptors. We investigated the presence and regulation of TLR1, TLR2, and TLR9 in human chondrocytes.
We studied TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, and TLR9 mRNA (qRT-PCR) and receptor proteins (by immunostaining) in primary mature healthy chondrocytes, developing chondrocytes, and degenerated chondrocytes in osteoarthritis (OA) tissue sections of different OARSI grades. Effects of a danger signal and of a pro-inflammatory cytokine on TLRs were also studied.
In primary 2D-chondrocytes, TLR1 and TLR2 were strongly expressed. Stimulation of 2D and 3D chondrocytes with a TLR1/2-specific danger signal increased expression of TLR1 mRNA 1.3- to 1.8-fold, TLR2 mRNA 2.6- to 2.8-fold, and TNF-α mRNA 4.5- to 9-fold. On the other hand, TNF-α increased TLR1 mRNA] expression 16-fold, TLR2 mRNA expression 143- to 201-fold, and TNF-α mRNA expression 131- to 265-fold. TLR4 and TLR9 mRNA expression was not upregulated. There was a correlation between worsening of OA and increased TLR immunostaining in the superficial and middle cartilage zones, while chondrocytes assumed a CD166× progenitor phenotype. Correspondingly, TLR expression was high soon after differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to chondrocytes. With maturation, it declined (TLR2, TLR9).
Mature chondrocytes express TLR1 and TLR2 and may react to cartilage matrix/chondrocyte-derived danger signals or degradation products. This leads to synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which stimulate further TLR and cytokine expression, establishing a vicious circle. This suggests that OA can act as an autoinflammatory disease and links the old mechanical wear-and-tear concept with modern biochemical views of OA. These findings suggest that the chondrocyte itself is the earliest and most important inflammatory cell in OA.
PMCID: PMC3851674  PMID: 24237425
4.  Basement membrane collagen type IV expression by human mesenchymal stem cells during adipogenic differentiation 
During adipogenic differentiation human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) produce collagen type IV. In immunofluorescence staining differentiating hMSCs started to express collagen type IV when Oil Red O-positive fat droplets appeared intracellularly. Quantitative real time-polymerase chain reaction confirmed progressive increase of collagen type IV α1 and α2 mRNA levels over time, 18.6- and 12.2-fold by day 28, respectively, whereas the copy numbers of α3–α6 mRNAs remained rather stable and low. Type IV collagen was in confocal laser scanning microscopy seen around adipocytes, where also laminins and nidogen were found, suggesting pericellular deposition of all key components of the fully developed basement membrane. Immunofluorescence staining of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2, 72 kD type IV collagenase, gelatinase A) and MMP-9 (92 kD type IV collagenase, gelatinase B) disclosed only faint staining of MSCs, but MMP-9 was strongly induced during adipogenesis, whereas MSC supernatants disclosed in zymography pro-MMP-2 and faint pro-MMP-9 bands, which increased over time, with partial conversion of pro-MMP-2 to its active 62 kD form. Differentiation was associated with increasing membrane type 1-MMP/MMP-14 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2) staining, which may enable participation of type IV collagenases in basement membrane remodelling via ternary MT1-MMP/TIMP-2/MMP-2 or −9 complexes, focalizing the fully active enzyme to the cell surface. MMP-9, which increased more in immunofluorescence staining, was perhaps preferentially bound to cell surface and/or remodelling adipocyte basement membrane. These results suggest that upon MSC-adipocyte differentiation collagen type IV synthesis and remodelling become necessary when intracellular accumulation of fat necessitates a dynamically supporting and instructive, partly denatured adipogenic pericellular type IV collagen scaffold.
PMCID: PMC3823217  PMID: 21883898
adult stem cells; mesenchymal stem cells; cell differentiation; extracellular matrix; collagen type IV
6.  Podosome-like structures of non-invasive carcinoma cells are replaced in epithelial-mesenchymal transition by actin comet-embedded invadopodia 
Podosomes and invadopodia are actin-based structures at the ventral cell membrane, which have a role in cell adhesion, migration and invasion. Little is known about the differences and dynamics underlying these structures. We studied podosome-like structures of oral squamous carcinoma cells and invadopodia of their invasive variant that has undergone a spontaneous epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In 3D imaging, podosomes were relatively large structures that enlarged in time, whereas invadopodia of invasive cells remained small, but were more numerous, degraded more extracellular matrix (ECM) and were morphologically strikingly different from podosomes. In live-cell imaging, highly dynamic, invadopodia-embedded actin tails were frequently released and rocketed through the cytoplasm. Resembling invadopodia, we found new club-ended cell extensions in EMT-experienced cells, which contained actin, cortactin, vinculin and MT1-matrix metalloproteinase. These dynamic cell extensions degraded ECM and, in field emission scanning electron microscopy, protruded from the dorsal cell membrane. Plectin, αII-spectrin, talin and focal adhesion kinase immunoreactivities were detected in podosome rings, whereas they were absent from invadopodia. Tensin potentially replaced talin in invadopodia. Integrin α3β1 surrounded both podosomes and invadopodia, whereas integrin αvβ5 localized only to invadopodia heads. Pacsin 2, in conjunction with filamin A, was detected early in podosomes, whereas pacsin 2 was not found in invadopodia and filamin A showed delayed accumulation. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching indicated faster reorganization of actin, cortactin and filamin A in podosomes compared to invadopodia. In conclusion, EMT affects the invasion machinery of oral squamous carcinoma cells. Non-invasive squamous carcinoma cells constitutively organize podosomes, whereas invasive cells form invadopodia. The club-ended cell extensions, or externalized invadopodia, are involved in ECM degradation and maintenance of contact to adhesion substrate and surrounding cells during invasion.
PMCID: PMC3829022  PMID: 19656240
epithelial-mesenchymal transition; filamin A; fluorescence recovery after photobleaching; invadopodia; pacsin 2; podosome; oral squamous cell carcinoma; total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy
7.  Fibroblast biology: Signals targeting the synovial fibroblast in arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):348-355.
Fibroblast-like cells in the synovial lining (type B lining cells), stroma and pannus tissue are targeted by many signals, such as the following: ligands binding to cell surface receptors; lipid soluble, small molecular weight mediators (eg nitric oxide [NO], prostaglandins, carbon monoxide); extracellular matrix (ECM)-cell interactions; and direct cell-cell contacts, including gap junctional intercellular communication. Joints are subjected to cyclic mechanical loading and shear forces. Adherence and mechanical forces affect fibroblasts via the ECM (including the hyaluronan fluid phase matrix) and the pericellular matrix (eg extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer [EMMPRIN]) matrices, thus modulating fibroblast migration, adherence, proliferation, programmed cell death (including anoikis), synthesis or degradation of ECM, and production of various cytokines and other mediators [1]. Aggressive, transformed or transfected mesenchymal cells containing proto-oncogenes can act in the absence of lymphocytes, but whether these cells represent regressed fibroblasts, chondrocytes or bone marrow stem cells is unclear.
PMCID: PMC130135  PMID: 11094447
fibroblast; rheumatoid arthritis; synovial membrane

Results 1-7 (7)