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1.  In Vitro Differentiation Potential of Human Placenta Derived Cells into Skin Cells 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:841062.
Skin autografting is the most viable and aesthetic technique for treatment of extensive burns; however, this practice has potential limitations. Harvesting cells from neonatal sources (such as placental tissue) is a simple, inexpensive, and noninvasive procedure. In the current study authors sought to evaluate in vitro potential of human placenta derived stem cells to develop into skin-like cells. After extensive washing, amniotic membrane and umbilical cord tissue were separated to harvest amniotic epithelial cells (AECs) and umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSCs), respectively. Both types of cells were characterized for the expression of embryonic lineage markers and their growth characteristics were determined. AECs and UC-MSCs were induced to differentiate into keratinocytes-like and dermal fibroblasts-like cells, respectively. After induction, morphological changes were detected by microscopy. The differentiation potential was further assessed using immunostaining and RT-PCR analyses. AECs were positive for cytokeratins and E-Cadherin while UC-MSCs were positive for fibroblast specific makers. AECs differentiated into keratinocytes-like cells showed positive expression of keratinocyte specific cytokeratins, involucrin, and loricrin. UC-MSCs differentiated into dermal fibroblast-like cells indicated expression of collagen type 3, desmin, FGF-7, fibroblast activation protein alpha, procollagen-1, and vimentin. In conclusion, placenta is a potential source of cells to develop into skin-like cells.
doi:10.1155/2015/841062
PMCID: PMC4502554
2.  Angiogenic Potential of Human Neonatal Foreskin Stromal Cells in the Chick Embryo Chorioallantoic Membrane Model 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:257019.
Several studies have demonstrated the multipotentiality of human neonatal foreskin stromal cells (hNSSCs) as being able to differentiate into adipocytes and osteoblasts and potentially other cell types. Recently, we demonstrated that hNSSCs play a role during in vitro angiogenesis and appear to possess a capacity to differentiate into endothelial-like cells; however, their angiogenic potential within an ex vivo environment remains unclear. Current study shows hNSSCs to display significant migration potential in the undifferentiated state and high responsiveness in the in vitro wound healing scratch assay. When hNSSCs were seeded onto the top of the CAM, human von Willebrand factor (hVWF), CD31, smooth muscle actin (SMA), and factor XIIIa positive cells were observed in the chick endothelium. CAMs transplanted with endothelial-differentiated hNSSCs displayed a higher number of blood vessels containing hNSSCs compared to CAMs transplanted with undifferentiated hNSSCs. Interestingly, undifferentiated hNSSCs showed a propensity to differentiate towards ectoderm with indication of epidermal formation with cells positive for CD1a, CK5/6, CK19, FXIIIa, and S-100 cells, which warrant further investigation. Our findings imply a potential angiogenic role for hNSSCs ex vivo in the differentiated and undifferentiated state, with potential contribution to blood vessel formation and potential application in tissue regeneration and vascularization.
doi:10.1155/2015/257019
PMCID: PMC4499640  PMID: 26221144
3.  Differential Reponses of Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells to mTOR Inhibition 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:561404.
Abnormal activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway has been observed in a variety of human cancers. Therefore, targeting of the mTOR pathway is an attractive strategy for cancer treatment and several mTOR inhibitors, including AZD8055 (AZD), a novel dual mTORC1/2 inhibitor, are currently in clinical trials. Although bone marrow (BM) suppression is one of the primary side effects of anticancer drugs, it is not known if pharmacological inhibition of dual mTORC1/2 affects BM hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) function and plasticity. Here we report that dual inhibition of mTORC1/2 by AZD or its analogue (KU-63794) depletes mouse BM Lin−Sca-1+c-Kit+ cells in cultures via the induction of apoptotic cell death. Subsequent colony-forming unit (CFU) assays revealed that inhibition of mTORC1/2 suppresses the clonogenic function of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) in a dose-dependent manner. Surprisingly, we found that dual inhibition of mTORC1/2 markedly inhibits the growth of day-14 cobblestone area-forming cells (CAFCs) but enhances the generation of day-35 CAFCs. Given the fact that day-14 and day-35 CAFCs are functional surrogates of HPCs and hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), respectively, these results suggest that dual inhibition of mTORC1/2 may have distinct effects on HPCs versus HSCs.
doi:10.1155/2015/561404
PMCID: PMC4499403  PMID: 26221145
4.  Advances and Prospects in Tissue-Engineered Meniscal Scaffolds for Meniscus Regeneration 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:517520.
The meniscus plays a crucial role in maintaining knee joint homoeostasis. Meniscal lesions are relatively common in the knee joint and are typically categorized into various types. However, it is difficult for inner avascular meniscal lesions to self-heal. Untreated meniscal lesions lead to meniscal extrusions in the long-term and gradually trigger the development of knee osteoarthritis (OA). The relationship between meniscal lesions and knee OA is complex. Partial meniscectomy, which is the primary method to treat a meniscal injury, only relieves short-term pain; however, it does not prevent the development of knee OA. Similarly, other current therapeutic strategies have intrinsic limitations in clinical practice. Tissue engineering technology will probably address this challenge by reconstructing a meniscus possessing an integrated configuration with competent biomechanical capacity. This review describes normal structure and biomechanical characteristics of the meniscus, discusses the relationship between meniscal lesions and knee OA, and summarizes the classifications and corresponding treatment strategies for meniscal lesions to understand meniscal regeneration from physiological and pathological perspectives. Last, we present current advances in meniscal scaffolds and provide a number of prospects that will potentially benefit the development of meniscal regeneration methods.
doi:10.1155/2015/517520
PMCID: PMC4496486  PMID: 26199629
5.  Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells Derived from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Support CD34pos Hematopoietic Stem Cell Propagation and Suppress Inflammatory Reaction 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:843058.
Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) represent a promising cell source for research and therapeutic applications, but their restricted ex vivo propagation capabilities limit putative applications. Substantial self-renewing of stem cells can be achieved by reprogramming cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that can be easily expanded as undifferentiated cells even in mass culture. Here, we investigated a differentiation protocol enabling the generation and selection of human iPSC-derived MSCs exhibiting relevant surface marker expression profiles (CD105 and CD73) and functional characteristics. We generated such iPSC-MSCs from fibroblasts and bone marrow MSCs utilizing two different reprogramming constructs. All such iPSC-MSCs exhibited the characteristics of normal bone marrow-derived (BM) MSCs. In direct comparison to BM-MSCs our iPSC-MSCs exhibited a similar surface marker expression profile but shorter doubling times without reaching senescence within 20 passages. Considering functional capabilities, iPSC-MSCs provided supportive feeder layer for CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells' self-renewal and colony forming capacities. Furthermore, iPSC-MSCs gained immunomodulatory function to suppress CD4+ cell proliferation, reduce proinflammatory cytokines in mixed lymphocyte reaction, and increase regulatory CD4+/CD69+/CD25+ T-lymphocyte population. In conclusion, we generated fully functional MSCs from various iPSC lines irrespective of their starting cell source or reprogramming factor composition and we suggest that such iPSC-MSCs allow repetitive cell applications for advanced therapeutic approaches.
doi:10.1155/2015/843058
PMCID: PMC4491576  PMID: 26185499
6.  Hematopoietic Origin of Murine Lung Fibroblasts 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:159713.
Multiple origins, including the bone marrow, have been suggested to contribute to fibroblast populations in the lung. Using bone marrow reconstitution strategies, the present study tested the hypothesis that the bone marrow hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gives rise to lung tissue fibroblasts in vivo. Data demonstrate that the nonadherent bone marrow fraction is enriched for CD45+ HSC-derived cells and was able to reconstitute hematopoiesis in lethally irradiated animals. Analysis of peripheral blood and lung tissues from engrafted mice demonstrated the ability of this population to give rise to CD45+/Discoidin-Domain Receptor-2+ (DDR2) circulating fibroblast precursors (CFPs) in blood and fibroblast populations in lung. An HSC origin for lung fibroblasts was confirmed using a novel clonal cell transplantation method in which the bone marrow is reconstituted by a clonal population derived from a single HSC. Together, these findings provide evidence for an HSC contribution to lung fibroblasts and demonstrate a circulating intermediate through the CD45+/DDR2+ HSC-derived CFP.
doi:10.1155/2015/159713
PMCID: PMC4491389  PMID: 26185498
7.  Differential Regulation of Gene Expression of Alveolar Epithelial Cell Markers in Human Lung Adenocarcinoma-Derived A549 Clones 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:165867.
Stem cell therapy appears to be promising for restoring damaged or irreparable lung tissue. However, establishing a simple and reproducible protocol for preparing lung progenitor populations is difficult because the molecular basis for alveolar epithelial cell differentiation is not fully understood. We investigated an in vitro system to analyze the regulatory mechanisms of alveolus-specific gene expression using a human alveolar epithelial type II (ATII) cell line, A549. After cloning A549 subpopulations, each clone was classified into five groups according to cell morphology and marker gene expression. Two clones (B7 and H12) were further analyzed. Under serum-free culture conditions, surfactant protein C (SPC), an ATII marker, was upregulated in both H12 and B7. Aquaporin 5 (AQP5), an ATI marker, was upregulated in H12 and significantly induced in B7. When the RAS/MAPK pathway was inhibited, SPC and thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1) expression levels were enhanced. After treatment with dexamethasone (DEX), 8-bromoadenosine 3′5′-cyclic monophosphate (8-Br-cAMP), 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX), and keratinocyte growth factor (KGF), surfactant protein B and TTF-1 expression levels were enhanced. We found that A549-derived clones have plasticity in gene expression of alveolar epithelial differentiation markers and could be useful in studying ATII maintenance and differentiation.
doi:10.1155/2015/165867
PMCID: PMC4488158  PMID: 26167183
8.  Role of Bone Marrow-Derived Stem Cells in Polyps Development in Mice with ApcMin/+ Mutation 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:354193.
We explored the hypothesis that an altered microenvironment (intestinal adenomatous polyp) could modify the differentiation program of bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMSCs), involving them in colon carcinogenesis. Sublethally irradiated 8-week-old female ApcMin/+ mice were transplanted with bone marrow (BM) cells obtained from either male age-matched ApcMin/+ (Apc-Tx-Apc) or wild type (WT) (WT-Tx-Apc) mice. At 4 and 7 weeks after transplantation, BM-derived colonocytes were recognized by colocalization of Y-chromosome and Cdx2 protein (specific colonocyte marker). Polyp number, volume, and grade of dysplasia were not influenced by irradiation/transplantation procedures since they were similar in both untreated female ApcMin/+ and Apc-Tx-Apc mice. At 4 and 7 weeks after transplantation, a progressive significant reduction of polyp number and volume was observed in WT-Tx-Apc mice. Moreover, the number of WT-Tx-Apc mice with a high-grade dysplastic polyps significantly decreased as compared to Apc-Tx-Apc mice. Finally, at 4 and 7 weeks after transplantation, WT-Tx-Apc mice showed a progressive significant increase of Y+/Cdx2+ cells in “normal” mucosa, whereas, in the adenomatous tissue, Y+/Cdx2+ cells remained substantially unvaried. Our findings demonstrate that WT BMSCs do not participate in polyp development but rather inhibit their growth. The substitution of genotypically altered colonocytes with Y+/Cdx2+ cells probably contributes to this process.
doi:10.1155/2015/354193
PMCID: PMC4488009  PMID: 26167184
9.  Physical Activity Increases the Total Number of Bone-Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Enhances Their Osteogenic Potential, and Inhibits Their Adipogenic Properties 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:379093.
Aging and sedentary lifestyle are common nowadays and are associated with the increasing number of chronic diseases. Thus, physical activity is recommended as one of three healthy behavior factors that play a crucial role in health prophylaxis. In the present study, we were interested whether physical activity influences the number and potential of bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells BMMSCs. In this study, four-week-old male C57Bl/6 mice were trained on a treadmill at progressive speeds over a 5-week period. Comparisons made between exercised (EX) and sedentary animal groups revealed (i) significantly higher number of MSCs in EX animals, (ii) elevated alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, (iii) increased level of osteopontin (OPN) and osteocalcin (OCL), and (iv) reduced marrow cavity fat. The results obtained support the thesis that EX may play a substantial role in the regeneration of mesenchymal tissues. Therefore, EX may represent a novel, nonpharmacological strategy of slowing down age-related decline of the musculoskeletal functions.
doi:10.1155/2015/379093
PMCID: PMC4488015  PMID: 26167185
11.  Development of a System and Method for Automated Isolation of Stromal Vascular Fraction from Adipose Tissue Lipoaspirate 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:109353.
Autologous fat grafting for soft tissue reconstruction is challenged by unpredictable long-term graft survival. Fat derived stromal vascular fraction (SVF) is gaining popularity in tissue reconstruction as SVF-enriched fat grafts demonstrate improved engraftment. SVF also has potential in regenerative medicine for remodeling of ischemic tissues by promoting angiogenesis. Since SVF cells do not require culture expansion, attempts are being made to develop automated devices to isolate SVF at the point of care. We report development of a closed, automated system to process up to 500 mL lipoaspirate using cell size-dependent filtration technology. The yield of SVF obtained by automated tissue digestion and filtration (1.17 ± 0.5 × 105 cells/gram) was equivalent to that obtained by manual isolation (1.15 ± 0.3 × 105; p = 0.8), and the viability of the cells isolated by both methods was greater than 90%. Cell composition included CD34+CD31− adipose stromal cells, CD34+CD31+ endothelial progenitor cells, and CD34−CD31+ endothelial cells, and their relative percentages were equivalent to SVF isolated by the manual method. CFU-F capacity and expression of angiogenic factors were also comparable with the manual method, establishing proof-of-concept for fully automated SVF isolation, suitable for use in reconstructive surgeries and regenerative medicine applications.
doi:10.1155/2015/109353
PMCID: PMC4475713  PMID: 26167182
12.  Current Perspectives in Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Therapies for Airway Tissue Defects 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:746392.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and respiratory diseases are the third cause of death in industrialized countries; for this reason the airways and cardiopulmonary system have been the focus of extensive investigation, in particular of the new emerging branch of regenerative medicine. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are a population of undifferentiated multipotent adult cells that naturally reside within the human body, which can differentiate into osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic lineages when cultured in specific inducing media. MSCs have the ability to migrate and engraft at sites of inflammation and injury in response to cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors at a wound site and they can exert local reparative effects through transdifferentiation and differentiation into specific cell types or via the paracrine secretion of soluble factors with anti-inflammatory and wound-healing activities. Experimental and clinical evidence exists regarding MSCs efficacy in airway defects restoration; although clinical MSCs use, in the daily practice, is not yet completely reached for airway diseases, we can argue that MSCs do not represent any more merely an experimental approach to airway tissue defects restoration but they can be considered as a “salvage” therapeutic tool in very selected patients and diseases.
doi:10.1155/2015/746392
PMCID: PMC4475757  PMID: 26167186
13.  An Update on Ocular Surface Epithelial Stem Cells: Cornea and Conjunctiva 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:601731.
The human ocular surface (front surface of the eye) is formed by two different types of epithelia: the corneal epithelium centrally and the conjunctival epithelium that surrounds this. These two epithelia are maintained by different stem cell populations (limbal stem cells for the corneal epithelium and the conjunctival epithelial stem cells). In this review, we provide an update on our understanding of these epithelia and their stem cells systems, including embryology, new markers, and controversy around the location of these stem cells. We also provide an update on the translation of this understanding into clinical applications for the treatment of debilitating ocular surface diseases.
doi:10.1155/2015/601731
PMCID: PMC4471309  PMID: 26146504
14.  EGFR Amplification and Glioblastoma Stem-Like Cells 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:427518.
Glioblastoma (GBM), the most common malignant brain tumor in adults, contains a subpopulation of cells with a stem-like phenotype (GS-cells). GS-cells can be maintained in vitro using serum-free medium supplemented with epidermal growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor-2, and heparin. However, this method does not conserve amplification of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) gene, which is present in over 50% of all newly diagnosed GBM cases. GS-cells with retained EGFR amplification could overcome the limitations of current in vitro model systems and contribute significantly to preclinical research on EGFR-targeted therapy. This review recapitulates recent methodological approaches to expand stem-like cells from GBM with different EGFR status in order to maintain EGFR-dependent intratumoral heterogeneity in vitro. Further, it will summarize the current knowledge about the impact of EGFR amplification and overexpression on the stem-like phenotype of GBM-derived GS-cells and different approaches to target the EGFR-dependent GS-cell compartment of GBM.
doi:10.1155/2015/427518
PMCID: PMC4468289  PMID: 26136784
15.  Human Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells: A New Therapeutic Option for Tooth Regeneration 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:549432.
Tooth regeneration is considered to be an optimistic approach to replace current treatments for tooth loss. It is important to determine the most suitable seed cells for tooth regeneration. Recently, human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs) have been regarded as a promising candidate for tissue regeneration. However, it has not been reported whether hUCMSCs can be employed in tooth regeneration. Here, we report that hUCMSCs can be induced into odontoblast-like cells in vitro and in vivo. Induced hUCMSCs expressed dentin-related proteins including dentin sialoprotein (DSP) and dentin matrix protein-1 (DMP-1), and their gene expression levels were similar to those in native pulp tissue cells. Moreover, DSP- and DMP-1-positive calcifications were observed after implantation of hUCMSCs in vivo. These findings reveal that hUCMSCs have an odontogenic differentiation potency to differentiate to odontoblast-like cells with characteristic deposition of dentin-like matrix in vivo. This study clearly demonstrates hUCMSCs as an alternative therapeutic cell source for tooth regeneration.
doi:10.1155/2015/549432
PMCID: PMC4468342  PMID: 26136785
16.  Satellite Cells CD44 Positive Drive Muscle Regeneration in Osteoarthritis Patients 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:469459.
Age-related bone diseases, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, are strongly associated with sarcopenia and muscle fiber atrophy. In this study, we analyzed muscle biopsies in order to demonstrate that, in osteoarthritis patients, both osteophytes formation and regenerative properties of muscle stem cells are related to the same factors. In particular, thanks to immunohistochemistry, transmission electron microscopy, and immunogold labeling we investigated the role of BMP-2 in muscle stem cells activity. In patients with osteoarthritis both immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy allowed us to note a higher number of CD44 positive satellite muscle cells forming syncytium. Moreover, the perinuclear and cytoplasmic expression of BMP-2 assessed by in situ molecular characterization of satellite cells syncytia suggest a very strict correlation between BMP-2 expression and muscle regeneration capability. Summing up, the higher BMP-2 expression in osteoarthritic patients could explain the increased bone mineral density as well as decreased muscle atrophy in osteoarthrosic patients. In conclusion, our results suggest that the control of physiological BMP-2 balance between bone and muscle tissues may be considered as a potential pharmacological target in bone-muscle related pathology.
doi:10.1155/2015/469459
PMCID: PMC4460235  PMID: 26101529
17.  All-Trans Retinoic Acid Improves the Effects of Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells on the Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis: An In Vitro Study 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:484528.
Previous studies have demonstrated the immunosuppressive effects of both all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The present study aimed to assess the immunoregulatory effects of ATRA on MSCs in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Bone marrow-derived MSCs from healthy donors were pretreated with ATRA and cocultured with CD3/28-activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) derived from AS patients. Frequencies of Th17 and regulatory T (Treg) cells were analyzed using flow cytometry. The secretion and the mRNA level of key cytokines were measured with cytometric bead array and quantitative real-time PCR, respectively. ATRA pretreatment increased interleukin-6 (IL-6) secretion of MSCs. Th17 and Treg subset populations were increased and reduced by ATRA-pretreated MSCs, respectively. ATRA-pretreated MSCs significantly decreased not only the vital pathogenic cytokine in AS, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), but also AS-boosting factors interleukin-17 (IL-17A) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ). These results indicated that IL-6 may be a potential protective factor in AS and highlighted the promising role of ATRA in improving the efficacy of MSC-based treatment of AS.
doi:10.1155/2015/484528
PMCID: PMC4466433  PMID: 26124839
18.  Stem Cell-Biomaterial Interactions for Tissue Engineering 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:126710.
doi:10.1155/2015/126710
PMCID: PMC4466470  PMID: 26124838
19.  Modulating Mesenchymal Stem Cell Behavior Using Human Hair Keratin-Coated Surfaces 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:752424.
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) have shown great potential for therapeutic purposes. However, the low frequencies of hMSCs in the body and difficulties in expanding their numbers in vitro have limited their clinical use. In order to develop an alternative strategy for the expansion of hMSCs in vitro, we coated tissue culture polystyrene with keratins extracted from human hair and studied the behavior of cells from 2 donors on these surfaces. The coating resulted in a homogeneous distribution of nanosized keratin globules possessing significant hydrophilicity. Results from cell attachment assays demonstrated that keratin-coated surfaces were able to moderate donor-to-donor variability when compared with noncoated tissue culture polystyrene. STRO-1 expression was either sustained or enhanced on hMSCs cultured on keratin-coated surfaces. This translated into significant increases in the colony-forming efficiencies of both hMSC populations, when the cells were serially passaged. Human hair keratins are abundant and might constitute a feasible replacement for other biomaterials that are of animal origin. In addition, our results suggest that hair keratins may be effective in moderating the microenvironment sufficiently to enrich hMSCs with high colony-forming efficiency ex vivo, for clinical applications.
doi:10.1155/2015/752424
PMCID: PMC4466490  PMID: 26124842
20.  Graphene: A Versatile Carbon-Based Material for Bone Tissue Engineering 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:804213.
The development of materials and strategies that can influence stem cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation towards osteoblasts is of high interest to promote faster healing and reconstructions of large bone defects. Graphene and its derivatives (graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide) have received increasing attention for biomedical applications as they present remarkable properties such as high surface area, high mechanical strength, and ease of functionalization. These biocompatible carbon-based materials can induce and sustain stem cell growth and differentiation into various lineages. Furthermore, graphene has the ability to promote and enhance osteogenic differentiation making it an interesting material for bone regeneration research. This paper will review the important advances in the ability of graphene and its related forms to induce stem cells differentiation into osteogenic lineages.
doi:10.1155/2015/804213
PMCID: PMC4466492  PMID: 26124843
21.  Modulation of Dental Pulp Stem Cell Odontogenesis in a Tunable PEG-Fibrinogen Hydrogel System 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:525367.
Injectable hydrogels have the great potential for clinical translation of dental pulp regeneration. A recently developed PEG-fibrinogen (PF) hydrogel, which comprises a bioactive fibrinogen backbone conjugated to polyethylene glycol (PEG) side chains, can be cross-linked after injection by photopolymerization. The objective of this study was to investigate the use of this hydrogel, which allows tuning of its mechanical properties, as a scaffold for dental pulp tissue engineering. The cross-linking degree of PF hydrogels could be controlled by varying the amounts of PEG-diacrylate (PEG-DA) cross-linker. PF hydrogels are generally cytocompatible with the encapsulated dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs), yielding >85% cell viability in all hydrogels. It was found that the cell morphology of encapsulated DPSCs, odontogenic gene expression, and mineralization were strongly modulated by the hydrogel cross-linking degree and matrix stiffness. Notably, DPSCs cultured within the highest cross-linked hydrogel remained mostly rounded in aggregates and demonstrated the greatest enhancement in odontogenic gene expression. Consistently, the highest degree of mineralization was observed in the highest cross-linked hydrogel. Collectively, our results indicate that PF hydrogels can be used as a scaffold for DPSCs and offers the possibility of influencing DPSCs in ways that may be beneficial for applications in regenerative endodontics.
doi:10.1155/2015/525367
PMCID: PMC4466494  PMID: 26124841
22.  Electrospun Gelatin/β-TCP Composite Nanofibers Enhance Osteogenic Differentiation of BMSCs and In Vivo Bone Formation by Activating Ca2+-Sensing Receptor Signaling 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:507154.
Calcium phosphate- (CaP-) based composite scaffolds have been used extensively for the bone regeneration in bone tissue engineering. Previously, we developed a biomimetic composite nanofibrous membrane of gelatin/β-tricalcium phosphate (TCP) and confirmed their biological activity in vitro and bone regeneration in vivo. However, how these composite nanofibers promote the osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) is unknown. Here, gelatin/β-TCP composite nanofibers were fabricated by incorporating 20 wt% β-TCP nanoparticles into electrospun gelatin nanofibers. Electron microscopy showed that the composite β-TCP nanofibers had a nonwoven structure with a porous network and a rough surface. Spectral analyses confirmed the presence and chemical stability of the β-TCP and gelatin components. Compared with pure gelatin nanofibers, gelatin/β-TCP composite nanofibers caused increased cell attachment, proliferation, alkaline phosphatase activity, and osteogenic gene expression in rat BMSCs. Interestingly, the expression level of the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) was significantly higher on the composite nanofibrous scaffolds than on pure gelatin. For rat calvarial critical sized defects, more extensive osteogenesis and neovascularization occurred in the composite scaffolds group compared with the gelatin group. Thus, gelatin/β-TCP composite scaffolds promote osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs in vitro and bone regeneration in vivo by activating Ca2+-sensing receptor signaling.
doi:10.1155/2015/507154
PMCID: PMC4466496  PMID: 26124840
23.  Hydrogels and Cell Based Therapies in Spinal Cord Injury Regeneration 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:948040.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a central nervous system- (CNS-) related disorder for which there is yet no successful treatment. Within the past several years, cell-based therapies have been explored for SCI repair, including the use of pluripotent human stem cells, and a number of adult-derived stem and mature cells such as mesenchymal stem cells, olfactory ensheathing cells, and Schwann cells. Although promising, cell transplantation is often overturned by the poor cell survival in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Alternatively, the therapeutic role of different cells has been used in tissue engineering approaches by engrafting cells with biomaterials. The latter have the advantages of physically mimicking the CNS tissue, while promoting a more permissive environment for cell survival, growth, and differentiation. The roles of both cell- and biomaterial-based therapies as single therapeutic approaches for SCI repair will be discussed in this review. Moreover, as the multifactorial inhibitory environment of a SCI suggests that combinatorial approaches would be more effective, the importance of using biomaterials as cell carriers will be herein highlighted, as well as the recent advances and achievements of these promising tools for neural tissue regeneration.
doi:10.1155/2015/948040
PMCID: PMC4466497  PMID: 26124844
24.  Making Blood: The Haematopoietic Niche throughout Ontogeny 
Stem Cells International  2015;2015:571893.
Approximately one-quarter of all cells in the adult human body are blood cells. The haematopoietic system is therefore massive in scale and requires exquisite regulation to be maintained under homeostatic conditions. It must also be able to respond when needed, such as during infection or following blood loss, to produce more blood cells. Supporting cells serve to maintain haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells during homeostatic and pathological conditions. This coalition of supportive cell types, organised in specific tissues, is termed the haematopoietic niche. Haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells are generated in a number of distinct locations during mammalian embryogenesis. These stem and progenitor cells migrate to a variety of anatomical locations through the conceptus until finally homing to the bone marrow shortly before birth. Under stress, extramedullary haematopoiesis can take place in regions that are typically lacking in blood-producing activity. Our aim in this review is to examine blood production throughout the embryo and adult, under normal and pathological conditions, to identify commonalities and distinctions between each niche. A clearer understanding of the mechanism underlying each haematopoietic niche can be applied to improving ex vivo cultures of haematopoietic stem cells and potentially lead to new directions for transplantation medicine.
doi:10.1155/2015/571893
PMCID: PMC4465740  PMID: 26113865

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