Single cell quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) combined with high-throughput arrays allows analysis of gene expression profiles at a molecular level in approximately 11 hours after cell sample collection. We present here a high-content microfluidic real-time platform as a powerful tool to comparatively investigate regulation of developmental processes in single cells. This approach overcomes the limitations involving heterogeneous cell populations and sample amounts, and may shed light on differential regulation of gene expression in normal versus disease-related contexts. Furthermore, high-throughput single-cell qRT-PCR provides a standardized, comparative assay for in-depth analysis of the mechanisms underlying human pluripotent stem cell self-renewal and differentiation.
single cell; gene expression; dynamic assay; microfluidic; pluripotent
Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) derived from patient samples have tremendous potential for innovative approaches to disease pathology investigation and regenerative medicine therapies. However, most hiPSC derivation techniques utilize integrating viruses, which may leave residual transgene sequences as part of the host genome, thereby unpredictably altering cell phenotype in downstream applications. Here we describe a protocol for hiPSC derivation by transfection of a simple, nonviral minicircle DNA construct into human adipose stromal cells (hASCs). Minicircle DNA vectors are free of bacterial DNA and thereby capable of high expression in mammalian cells. Their repeated transfection into hASCs, an abundant somatic cell source that is amenable to efficient reprogramming, results in transgene-free hiPSCs. This protocol requires only readily available molecular biology reagents and expertise, and produces hiPSC colonies from an adipose tissue sample in ~4 weeks.
induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells; reprogramming; minicircle DNA; human adipose stem cells
During hypoxia, upregulation of hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) transcriptional factor can activate several downstream angiogenic genes. However, HIF-1α is naturally degraded by prolyl hydroxylase-2 (PHD2) protein. Here we hypothesize that short hairpin RNA (shRNA) interference therapy targeting PHD2 can be used for treatment of myocardial ischemia and this process can be followed noninvasively by molecular imaging.
Methods and Results
PHD2 was cloned from mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells by comparing the homolog gene in human and rat. The best candidate shRNA sequence for inhibiting PHD2 was inserted into the pSuper vector driven by the H1 promoter, followed by a separate hypoxia response element (HRE)-incorporated promoter driving a firefly luciferase (Fluc) reporter gene. This construct was used to transfect mouse C2C12 myoblast cell line for in vitro confirmation. Compared to the control short hairpin scramble (shScramble) as control, inhibition of PHD2 increased levels of HIF-1α protein and several downstream angiogenic genes by >30% (P<0.01). Afterwards, shRNA targeting PHD2 (shPHD2) plasmid was injected intramyocardially following ligation of left anterior descending (LAD) artery in mice. Animals were randomized into shPHD2 group (n=20) versus shScramble sequence as control (n=20). Bioluminescence imaging detected transgene expression for 4–5 weeks. Echocardiographic study showed the shPHD2 group had improved fractional shortening compared with the shScramble group at week 4 (33.7%±1.9% vs. 28.4%±2.8%; P<0.05). Postmortem analysis showed increased presence of small capillaries and venules in the infarcted zones by CD31 staining. Finally, Western blot anlaysis of explanted hearts also confirm that animals treated with shPHD2 had significantly higher levels of HIF-1α protein.
This is the first study to image the biological role of shRNA therapy for improving cardiac function. Inhibition of PHD2 by shRNA led to significant improvement in angiogenesis and contractility by in vitro and in vivo experiments. With further validation, the combination of shRNA therapy and molecular imaging can be used to track novel cardiovascular gene therapy applications in the future.
RNA interference; molecular imaging; hypoxia inducible factor; prolyl hydroxylases; ischemic heart disease
Conventional reporter gene technology and histological methods cannot routinely be used to track the in vivo behavior of embryonic stem (ES) cells longitudinally after cellular transplantation. Here we describe a protocol for monitoring the in vivo survival, proliferation, and migration of ES cells following surgical administration without necessitating animal sacrifice. Stable ES cell lines containing double fusion (DF; enhanced green fluorescent protein and firefly luciferase) or triple fusion (TF; monomeric red fluorescent protein, firefly luciferase, and herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase) reporter genes can be established within 4–6 weeks by lentiviral transduction followed fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS). The cell fate and behavior of these DF or TF ES cells can subsequently be tracked non-invasively by bioluminescence and microPET imaging for a prolonged period of time.
embryonic stem cells; molecular imaging; bioluminescence imaging; positron emission tomography imaging
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) hold great hopes for therapeutic application in various diseases. While ongoing research is dedicated to achieving clinical translation of iPSCs, further understanding of the mechanisms that underlie complex pathogenic conditions is required. Compared to other classical models for studying diseases, iPSCs provide considerable advantages. A newly emerging application of iPSCs is in vitro disease modeling, which can significantly improve the never-ending search for new pharmacological cures. Here, we will discuss current efforts to create iPSC-dependent, patient-specific disease models. Furthermore, we will review the use of iPSCs for development and testing of new therapeutic agents, and the implications for high-throughput drug screening.
Induced pluripotent stem cells; Disease modeling; Cardiovascular disease; Drug screening; High-throughput screening
DNA methylation is implicated in mammalian brain development and plasticity underlying learning and memory. We report the genome-wide composition, patterning, cell specificity, and dynamics of DNA methylation at single-base resolution in human and mouse frontal cortex throughout their lifespan. Widespread methylome reconfiguration occurs during fetal to young adult development, coincident with synaptogenesis. During this period, highly conserved non-CG methylation (mCH) accumulates in neurons, but not glia, to become the dominant form of methylation in the human neuronal genome. Moreover, we found an mCH signature that identifies genes escaping X-chromosome inactivation. Last, whole-genome single-base resolution 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (hmC) maps revealed that hmC marks fetal brain cell genomes at putative regulatory regions that are CG-demethylated and activated in the adult brain and that CG demethylation at these hmC-poised loci depends on Tet2 activity.
Human cardiac progenitor cells (hCPCs) are a promising cell source for regenerative repair after myocardial infarction. Exploitation of their full therapeutic potential may require stable genetic modification of the cells ex vivo. Safe genetic engineering of stem cells, using facile methods for site-specific integration of transgenes into known genomic contexts, would significantly enhance the overall safety and efficacy of cellular therapy in a variety of clinical contexts.
Methods and Results
We employed the phiC31 site-specific recombinase to achieve targeted integration of a triple fusion reporter gene into a known chromosomal context in hCPCs and human endothelial cells (hECs). Stable expression of the reporter gene from its unique chromosomal integration site resulted in no discernible genomic instability or adverse changes in cell phenotype. Namely, phiC31-modified hCPCs were unchanged in their differentiation propensity, cellular proliferative rate, and global gene expression profile when compared to unaltered control hCPCs. Expression of the triple fusion reporter gene enabled multimodal assessment of cell fate in vitro and in vivo using fluorescence microscopy, bioluminescence imaging (BLI), and positron emission tomography (PET). Intramyocardial transplantation of genetically modified hCPCs resulted in significant improvement in myocardial function two weeks after cell delivery, as assessed by echocardiography (P = 0.002) and magnetic resonance imaging (P = 0.001). We also demonstrated the feasibility and therapeutic efficacy of genetically modifying differentiated hECs, which enhanced hindlimb perfusion (P<0.05 at day 7 and 14 after transplantation) on laser Doppler imaging.
The phiC31 integrase genomic modification system is a safe, efficient tool to enable site-specific integration of reporter transgenes in progenitor and differentiated cell types.
cell therapy; stem cells; imaging; cardiovascular disease
Transgenic mouse with a stably integrated reporter gene(s) can be a valuable resource for obtaining uniformly labeled stem cells, tissues, and organs for various applications. We have generated a transgenic mouse model that ubiquitously expresses a tri-fusion reporter gene (fluc2-tdTomato-ttk) driven by a constitutive chicken β-actin promoter. This “Tri-Modality Reporter Mouse” system allows one to isolate most cells from this donor mouse and image them for bioluminescent (fluc2), fluorescent (tdTomato), and positron emission tomography (PET) (ttk) modalities. Transgenic colonies with different levels of tri-fusion reporter gene expression showed a linear correlation between all three-reporter proteins (R2=0.89 for TdTomato vs Fluc, R2=0.94 for Fluc vs TTK, R2=0.89 for TdTomato vs TTK) in vitro from tissue lysates and in vivo by optical and PET imaging. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from this transgenics showed high level of reporter gene expression, which linearly correlated with the cell numbers (R2=0.99 for bioluminescence imaging (BLI)). Both BLI (R2=0.93) and micro-PET (R2=0.94) imaging of the subcutaneous implants of Tri-Modality Reporter Mouse derived MSCs in nude mice showed linear correlation with the cell numbers and across different imaging modalities (R2=0.97). Serial imaging of MSCs transplanted to mice with acute myocardial infarction (MI) by intramyocardial injection exhibited significantly higher signals in MI heart at days 2, 3, 4, and 7 (p<0.01). MSCs transplanted to the ischemic hindlimb of nude mice showed significantly higher BLI and PET signals in the first 2 weeks that dropped by 4th week due to poor cell survival. However, laser Doppler perfusion imaging revealed that blood circulation in the ischemic limb was significantly improved in the MSCs transplantation group compared with the control group. In summary, this mouse can be used as a source of donor cells and organs in various research areas such as stem cell research, tissue engineering research, and organ transplantation.
The present work demonstrates that Cy5.5 conjugated Fe3O4/SiO2 core/shell nanoparticles could allow us to control movement of human natural killer cells (NK-92MI) by an external magnetic field. Required concentration of the nanoparticles for the cell manipulation is as low as ~20 μg Fe/mL. However, the relative ratio of the nanoparticles loaded NK-92MI cells infiltrated into the target tumor site is enhanced by 17-fold by applying magnetic field and their killing activity is still maintained as same as the NK-92MI cells without the nanoparticles. This approach allows us to open alternative clinical treatment with reduced toxicity of the nanoparticles and enhanced infiltration of immunology to the target site.
Fe3O4/SiO2 core/shell nanoparticles; Multifunctional nanoparticles; Magnetic field guided cell control; Natural killer cells; Tumor killing activity
Stem cells have been touted as the holy grail of medical therapy with promises to regenerate cardiac tissue, but it appears the jury is still out on this novel therapy. Using advanced imaging technology, scientists have discovered that these cells do not survive nor engraft long-term. In addition, only marginal benefit has been observed in large animal studies and human trials. However, all is not lost. Further application of advanced imaging technology will help scientists unravel the mysteries of stem cell therapy and address the clinical hurdles facing its routine implementation. In this review, we will discuss how advanced imaging technology will help investigators better define the optimal delivery method, improve survival and engraftment, and evaluate efficacy and safety. Insights gained from this review may direct the development of future preclinical investigations and clinical trials.
stem cell therapy; imaging; cardiovascular medicine
The possibility that ε4 may modulate the effects of fitness in the brain remains controversial. The present exploratory FDG-PET study aimed to better understand the relationship among ε4, fitness and cerebral metabolism in 18 healthy aged females (9 Carriers, 9 Non-carriers) during working memory.
Participants underwent VO2 max, CVLT and FDG-PET, collected at rest and during completion of the Sternberg Working Memory Task.
Resting FDG-PET did not differ between carriers and non-carriers. Significant effects of fitness on FDG-PET during working memory was noted in the ε4 carriers only. High Fit ε4 carriers had greater glucose uptake than the Low Fit in the temporal lobe, but Low Fit had greater glucose uptake in the frontal and parietal lobes.
We demonstrate that fitness differentially affects cerebral metabolism in ε4 carriers only, consistent with previous findings that the effects of fitness may be more pronounced in populations genetically at risk for cognitive decline.
Apolipoprotein-E; ε4; Positron Emission Tomography; FDG-PET; Alzheimer’s disease; fitness; Sternberg working memory task; working memory
Human cardiac progenitor cells have demonstrated great potential for myocardial repair in small and large animals, but robust methods for longitudinal assessment of their engraftment in humans is not yet readily available. In this study, we sought to optimize and evaluate the use of positron emission tomography (PET) reporter gene imaging for monitoring human cardiac progenitor cell (hCPC) transplantation in a mouse model of myocardial infarction.
Methods & Results
hCPCs were isolated and expanded from human myocardial samples and stably transduced with variations of the thymidine kinase (TK) PET reporter gene. TK-expressing hCPCs were characterized in vitro and transplanted into murine myocardial infarction models (n=60). Cardiac echocardiographic, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and pressure-volume (PV) loop analyses revealed improvement in left ventricular contractile function two weeks after transplant (hCPC vs. PBS, P<0.03). Noninvasive PET imaging was used to track hCPC fate over a four week time period, demonstrating a substantial decline in surviving cells. Importantly, early cell engraftment as assessed by PET was found to predict subsequent functional improvement, implying a “dose-effect” relationship. We isolated the transplanted cells from recipient myocardium by laser capture microdissection for in vivo transcriptome analysis. Our results provide direct evidence that hCPCs augment cardiac function after their transplantation into ischemic myocardium through paracrine secretion of growth factors.
PET reporter gene imaging can provide important diagnostic and prognostic information regarding the ultimate success of human cardiac progenitor cell treatment for myocardial infarction.
cell therapy; stem cells; imaging; positron emission tomography
Study of stem cells may reveal promising treatment for diseases. The fate and function of transplanted stem cells remain poorly defined. Recent studies demonstrate that reporter genes can monitor real-time survival of transplanted stem cells in living subjects. We examined the effects of a novel and versatile triple fusion (TF) reporter gene construction on embryonic stem (ES) cell function by proteomic analysis. Murine ES cells were stably transduced with a self-inactivating lentiviral vector containing fluorescence (firefly luciferase; Fluc), bioluminescence (monomeric red fluorescence protein; mRFP), and positron emission tomography (herpes simplex virus type 1 truncated thymidine kinase; tTK) reporter genes. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis isolated stably transduced populations. TF reporter gene effects on cellular function were evaluated by quantitative proteomic profiling of control ES cells versus ES cells stably expressing the TF construct (ES-TF). Overall, no significant changes in protein quantity were observed. TF reporter gene expression had no effect on ES cell viability, proliferation, and differentiation capability. Molecular imaging studies tracked ES-TF cell survival and proliferation in living animals. In summary, this is the first proteomic study, demonstrating the unique potential of reporter gene imaging for tracking ES cell transplantation non-invasively, repetitively, and quantitatively.
Embryonic stem cells; Mass spectrometry; Molecular imaging; Protein quantification
Arteriosclerotic cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Therapeutic angiogenesis aims to treat ischemic myocardial and peripheral tissues by delivery of recombinant proteins, genes, or cells to promote neoangiogenesis. Concerns regarding the safety, side effects, and efficacy of protein and gene transfer studies have led to the development of cell-based therapies as alternative approaches to induce vascular regeneration and to improve function of damaged tissue. Cell-based therapies may be improved by the application of imaging technologies that allow investigators to track the location, engraftment, and survival of the administered cell population. The past decade of investigations has produced promising clinical data regarding cell therapy, but design of trials and evaluation of treatments stand to be improved by emerging insight from imaging studies. Here, we provide an overview of pre-clinical and clinical experience using cell-based therapies to promote vascular regeneration in the treatment of peripheral arterial disease. We also review four major imaging modalities and underscore the importance of in vivo analysis of cell fate for a full understanding of functional outcomes.
Cell therapy; critical limb ischemia; imaging; peripheral arterial disease
Development of non-invasive and accurate methods to track cell fate following delivery will greatly expedite transition of embryonic stem (ES) cell therapy to the clinic. Here we describe a protocol for the in vivo monitoring of stem cell survival, proliferation, and migration using reporter genes. We established stable ES cell lines constitutively expressing double fusion (DF; enhanced green fluorescent protein and firefly luciferase) or triple fusion (TF; monomeric red fluorescent protein, firefly luciferase, and herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase) reporter genes using lentiviral transduction. We used fluorescence activated cell sorting to purify these populations in vitro, bioluminescence imaging and positron emission tomography imaging to track them in vivo, and fluorescence immunostaining to confirm the results ex vivo. Unlike other methods of cell tracking such as iron particle and radionuclide labeling, reporter genes are inherited genetically and can be used to monitor cell proliferation and survival for the lifetime of transplanted cells and their progeny.
embryonic stem cells; molecular imaging; bioluminescence imaging; fluorescence imaging; positron emission tomography imaging; magnetic resonance imaging
The derivation of human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and subsequently human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has energized regenerative medicine research and enabled seemingly limitless applications. While small animal models, such as mouse models, have played an important role in the progression of the field, typically, they are poor representations of the human disease phenotype. As an alternative, large animal models should be explored as a potentially better approach for clinical translation of cellular therapies. However, only fragmented information regarding the derivation, characterization, and clinical usefulness of pluripotent large animal cells is currently available. Here we briefly review the latest advances regarding the derivation and use of large animal iPSCs.
induced pluripotent stem cells; large animal iPS; disease modeling; bovine; canine; murine; primate
Cardiovascular disease physically damages the heart, resulting in loss of cardiac function. Medications can help alleviate symptoms, but it is more beneficial to treat the root cause by repairing injured tissues, which gives patients better outcomes. Besides heart transplants, cardiac surgeons use a variety of methods for repairing different areas of the heart such as the ventricular septal wall and valves. A multitude of biomaterials are used in the repair and replacement of impaired heart tissues. These biomaterials fall into two main categories: synthetic and natural. Synthetic materials used in cardiovascular applications include polymers and metals. Natural materials are derived from biological sources such as human donor or harvested animal tissues. A new class of composite materials has emerged to take advantage of the benefits of the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of both synthetic and natural materials. This article reviews the current and prospective applications of biomaterials in cardiovascular therapies.
biomaterials; cardiac repair; decellularized tissues; extracellular matrix; metals; polymers; regeneration; stem cells; tissue reconstruction
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are a valuable resource for discovery of epigenetic changes critical to cell type-specific differentiation. Although iPS cells have been generated from other terminally differentiated cells, the reprogramming of normal adult human basal prostatic epithelial (E-PZ) cells to a pluripotent state has not been reported. Here, we attempted to reprogram E-PZ cells by forced expression of Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4 using lentiviral vectors and obtained embryonic stem cell (ESC)-like colonies at a frequency of 0.01%. These E-PZ-iPS-like cells with normal karyotype gained expression of pluripotent genes typical of iPS cells (Tra-1-81, SSEA-3, Nanog, Sox2, and Oct4) and lost gene expression characteristic of basal prostatic epithelial cells (CK5, CK14, and p63). E-PZ-iPS-like cells demonstrated pluripotency by differentiating into ectodermal, mesodermal, and endodermal cells in vitro, although lack of teratoma formation in vivo and incomplete demethylation of pluripotency genes suggested only partial reprogramming. Importantly, E-PZ-iPS-like cells re-expressed basal epithelial cell markers (CD44, p63, MAO-A) in response to prostate-specific medium in spheroid culture. Androgen induced expression of androgen receptor (AR), and co-culture with rat urogenital sinus further induced expression of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a hallmark of secretory cells, suggesting that E-PZ-iPS-like cells have the capacity to differentiate into prostatic basal and secretory epithelial cells. Finally, when injected into mice, E-PZ-iPS-like cells expressed basal epithelial cell markers including CD44 and p63. When co-injected with rat urogenital mesenchyme, E-PZ-iPS-like cells expressed AR and expression of p63 and CD44 was repressed. DNA methylation profiling identified epigenetic changes in key pathways and genes involved in prostatic differentiation as E-PZ-iPS-like cells converted to differentiated AR- and PSA-expressing cells. Our results suggest that iPS-like cells derived from prostatic epithelial cells are pluripotent and capable of prostatic differentiation; therefore, provide a novel model for investigating epigenetic changes involved in prostate cell lineage specification.
Stem cell therapy promises to open exciting new options in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Although feasible and clinically safe, the in vivo behavior and integration of stem cell transplants still remain largely unknown. Thus, the development of innovative non-invasive imaging techniques capable of effectively tracking such therapy in vivo is vital for a more in-depth investigation into future clinical applications. Such imaging modalities will not only generate further insight into the mechanisms behind stem cell-based therapy, but also address some major concerns associated with translational cardiovascular stem cell therapy. In the present review, we summarize the principles underlying three major stem cell tracking methods: (1) radioactive labeling for positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging, (2) iron particle labeling for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and (3) reporter gene labeling for bioluminescence, fluorescence, MRI, SPECT, and PET imaging. We then discuss recent clinical studies that have utilized these modalities to gain biological insights into stem cell fate.
cardiovascular diseases; stem cells; imaging; radionuclide; magnetic resonance; bioluminescence
Bone marrow mononuclear cell (BMMC) therapy shows promise as a treatment for ischemic heart disease. However, the ability to monitor long-term cell fate remains limited. We hypothesize molecular imaging can be used to track stem cell homing and survival after myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury. We first harvested donor BMMCs from adult male L2G85 transgenic mice constitutively expressing both firefly luciferase (Fluc) and enhanced green fluorescence protein (eGFP) reporter gene. FACS analysis revealed ~0.07% of the population to consist of classical hematopoietic stem cells (lin-, thy-int, c-kit+, Sca-1+). Afterwards, adult female FVB recipients (n=38) were randomized to sham surgery or acute I/R injury. Animals in the sham (n=16) and I/R (n=22) groups received 5×106 of the L2G85-derived BMMCs via tail vein injection. Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) was used to track cell migration and survival in vivo for 4 weeks. BLI showed preferential homing of BMMCs to hearts with I/R injury compared to sham hearts within the first week following cell injection. Ex vivo analysis of explanted hearts by histology confirmed BLI imaging results, and quantitative RT-PCR (for the male Sry gene) further demonstrated higher number of BMMCs in hearts with I/R injury compared to the sham group. Functional evaluation by echocardiography demonstrated a trend towards improved left ventricular fractional shortening in animals receiving BMMCs. Taken together, these data demonstrate that molecular imaging can be used to successfully track BMMC therapy in murine models of heart disease. Specifically, we demonstrate that systemically delivered BMMCs preferentially home to and are retained by injured myocardium.
heart diseases; bone marrow; cell homing; molecular imaging
stem cell transplantation; biomatrices; tissue engineering; molecular imaging
Embryonic stem (ES) cells are distinguished by their capacity for self-renewal and pluripotency. Here we characterize the differentiation of ES cell-derived endothelial cells (ESC-ECs), use novel molecular imaging techniques to examine their survival following transplantation into the heart, and determine the therapeutic efficacy of ESC-ECs for restoration of cardiac function following ischemic injury.
Methods and Results
Murine ES cells were transfected with vascular endothelial cadherin promoter driving enhanced green fluorescence protein (pVE-cadherin-eGFP). Differentiation of ES cells to ECs was performed by FACS analysis of both Flk-1 (early EC marker at day 4) and VE-cadherin (late EC marker at day 8). After isolation, these ESC-ECs expressed endothelial cell markers similar to adult mouse lung endothelial cells, formed vascular-like channels, and had high metabolism of Dil-Ac-LDL. For in vivo imaging, ES cells were transduced with an ubiquitin promoter driving firefly luciferase and monomeric red fluorescence protein (pUb-Fluc-mRFP). A robust correlation exists between Fluc signals and cell numbers by ex vivo imaging analysis (R2=0.98) and by in vitro enzyme assay (R2=0.94). Afterwards, 5x105 ESC-ECs or PBS (as control) was injected into the hearts of mice undergoing LAD ligation. (n=15 per group). Bioluminescence imaging showed longitudinal survival of transplanted ESC-ECs for ~8 weeks. Echocardiography demonstrated significant functional improvement in the ESC-EC group compared to control (P<0.05). Finally, postmortem analysis confirmed increased presence of small capillaries and venules in the infracted zones by CD31 staining.
This is the first study to track the fate and function of transplanted ESC-ECs in the heart. With further validation, these ESC-ECs could become a valuable source of cell therapy for induction of angiogenesis in the treatment of myocardial ischemia.
embryonic stem cells; differentiation; endothelial cells; ischemic heart disease; molecular imaging
Multiple progenitors derived from the heart and bone marrow have been utilized for cardiac repair. Despite this, not much is known about the molecular identity and relationship among these progenitors. To develop a robust stem cell therapy for the heart, it is critical to understand the molecular identity of the multiple ‘cardiogenic progenitor cells’ (CPCs). This study is the first report of high throughput transcriptional profiling of CPCs carried out on an identical platform.
Method and Results
Microarray based transcriptional profiling was carried out for three cardiac (ckit+, Sca1+, side population) and two bone marrow (ckit+ , mesenchymal stem cell) progenitors, obtained from age- and sex-matched wild type C57BL/6 mice. Analysis indicated that cardiac-derived ckit+ population was very distinct from Sca1+ and SP cells in the downregulation of genes encoding for cell-cell and matrix adhesion proteins, and in the upregulation of developmental genes. Significant enrichment of transcripts involved in DNA replication and repair was observed in bone marrow (BM)-derived progenitors. The BM ckit+ cells appeared to have the least correlation with the other progenitors, with enrichment of immature neutrophil specific molecules.
Our study indicates that cardiac ckit+ cells represent the most primitive population in the rodent heart. Primitive cells of cardiac versus BM origin differ significantly with respect to stemness and cardiac lineage-specific genes, and molecules involved in DNA replication and repair. The detailed molecular profile of progenitors reported here will serve as a useful reference to determine the molecular identity of progenitors used in future preclinical and clinical studies
cardiac progenitor cells; bone marrow cells; transcriptomics; cardiovascular diseases
Cardiac stem cell therapy remains hampered by acute donor cell death post transplantation and the lack of reliable methods for tracking cell survival in vivo. We hypothesize that cells transfected with inducible vascular endothelial growth factor 165 (VEGF165) can improve their survival as monitored by novel molecular imaging techniques.
Methods and Results
Mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells were transfected with an inducible, bi-directional tetracycline (Bi-Tet) promoter driving VEGF165 and renilla luciferase (Rluc). Addition of doxycycline induced Bi-Tet expression of VEGF165 and Rluc significantly compared to baseline (P<0.05). Expression of VEGF165 enhanced ES cell proliferation and inhibited apoptosis as determined by Annexin-V staining. For noninvasive imaging, ES cells were transduced with a double fusion (DF) reporter gene consisting of firefly luciferase and enhanced green fluorescence protein (Fluc-eGFP). There was a robust correlation between cell number and Fluc activity (R2=0.99). Analysis by immunostaining, histology, and RT-PCR confirmed that expression of Bi-Tet and DF systems did not affect ES cell self-renewal or pluripotency. ES cells were differentiated into beating embryoid bodies expressing cardiac markers such as troponin, Nkx2.5, and β-MHC. Afterwards, 5×105 cells obtained from these beating embryoid bodies or saline were injected into the myocardium of SV129 mice (n=36) following ligation of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery. Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and echocardiography showed that VEGF165 induction led to significant improvements in both transplanted cell survival and cardiac function (P<0.05).
This is the first study to demonstrate imaging of embryonic stem cell mediated gene therapy targeting cardiovascular disease. With further validation, this platform may have broad applications for current basic research and future clinical studies.
embryonic stem cell; gene therapy; molecular imaging; Tet-on system; vascular endothelial growth factor; myocardial infarction
A comparative analysis of the efficacy of different cell candidates for the treatment of heart disease remains to be described. This study is designed to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of 4 cell types in a murine model of myocardial infarction.
Bone marrow mononuclear cells (MN), mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), skeletal myoblasts (SkMb) and fibroblasts (Fibro) were isolated from male L2G transgenic mice (FVB background) that constitutively express firefly luciferase (Fluc) and green fluorescence protein (GFP). Cells were characterized by flow cytometry, bioluminescence imaging (BLI), and luminometry. Female FVB mice (n=60) underwent LAD ligation and were randomized into 5 groups to intramyocardially receive one cell type (5 × 105) or PBS as control. Cell survival was measured in vivo by BLI and ex vivo by TaqMan PCR at week 6. Cardiac function was assessed by echocardiography and invasive hemodynamic measurements were made at week 6.
Fluc expression correlated with the cell number in all groups (r2 >0.93). In vivo BLI revealed acute donor cell death of MSC, SkMb, and Fibro within 3 weeks after transplantation. By contrast, cardiac signals were still present after 6 weeks in the MN group, as confirmed by TaqMan PCR (P<0.01). Echocardiography showed significant preservation of fractional shortening in the MN group compared to controls (P<0.05). Measurements of left ventricular end-systolic/diastolic volumes revealed that the least amount of ventricular dilatation occurred in the MN group (P<0.05). Histology confirmed the presence of MN, although there was no evidence of transdifferentiation by donor MN into cardiomyocytes.
This is the first study to directly compare a variety of cell candidates for myocardial therapy. Compared to MSC, SkMB, and Fibro, our results suggest that MN cells exhibit a more favorable survival pattern, which translates into a more robust preservation of cardiac function.