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1.  Influence of Murine Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Proliferation, Phenotype, Vitality, and Cytotoxicity of Murine Cytokine-Induced Killer Cells in Coculture 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88115.
Stimulating lymphocytes with Ifn-γ, anti-CD3, and interleukin-2 promotes the proliferation of a cell population coexpressing T-lymphocyte surface antigens such as CD3, CD8a, and CD25 as well as natural killer cell markers such as NK1.1, CD49, and CD69. These cells, referred to as cytokine-induced killer cells (CIKs), display cytotoxic activity against tumour cells, even without prior antigen presentation, and offer a new cell-based approach to the treatment of malignant diseases. Because CIKs are limited in vivo, strategies to optimize in vitro culture yield are required. In the last 10 years, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have gathered considerable attention. Aside from their uses in tissue engineering and as support in haematopoietic stem cell transplantations, MSCs show notable immunomodulatory characteristics, providing further possibilities for therapeutic applications. In this study, we investigated the influence of murine MSCs on proliferation, phenotype, vitality, and cytotoxicity of murine CIKs in a coculture system. We found that CIKs in coculture proliferated within 7 days, with an average growth factor of 18.84, whereas controls grew with an average factor of 3.7 in the same period. Furthermore, higher vitality was noted in cocultured CIKs than in controls. Cell phenotype was unaffected by coculture with MSCs and, notably, coculture did not impact cytotoxicity against the tumour cells analysed. The findings suggest that cell–cell contact is primarily responsible for these effects. Humoral interactions play only a minor role. Furthermore, no phenotypical MSCs were detected after coculture for 4 h, suggesting the occurrence of immune reactions between CIKs and MSCs. Further investigations with DiD-labelled MSCs revealed that the observed disappearance of MSCs appears not to be due to differentiation processes.
PMCID: PMC3916358  PMID: 24516591
2.  The aging signature: a hallmark of induced pluripotent stem cells? 
Aging Cell  2013;13(1):2-7.
The discovery that somatic cells can be induced into a pluripotent state by the expression of reprogramming factors has enormous potential for therapeutics and human disease modeling. With regard to aging and rejuvenation, the reprogramming process resets an aged, somatic cell to a more youthful state, elongating telomeres, rearranging the mitochondrial network, reducing oxidative stress, restoring pluripotency, and making numerous other alterations. The extent to which induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)s mime embryonic stem cells is controversial, however, as iPSCs have been shown to harbor an epigenetic memory characteristic of their tissue of origin which may impact their differentiation potential. Furthermore, there are contentious data regarding the extent to which telomeres are elongated, telomerase activity is reconstituted, and mitochondria are reorganized in iPSCs. Although several groups have reported that reprogramming efficiency declines with age and is inhibited by genes upregulated with age, others have successfully generated iPSCs from senescent and centenarian cells. Mixed findings have also been published regarding whether somatic cells generated from iPSCs are subject to premature senescence. Defects such as these would hinder the clinical application of iPSCs, and as such, more comprehensive testing of iPSCs and their potential aging signature should be conducted.
PMCID: PMC4326871  PMID: 24256351
aging; differentiation; epigenetic; induced pluripotent stem; reprogramming; telomeres
3.  The Role of DNA Methylation in Aging, Rejuvenation, and Age-Related Disease 
Rejuvenation Research  2012;15(5):483-494.
DNA methylation is a major control program that modulates gene expression in a plethora of organisms. Gene silencing through methylation occurs through the activity of DNA methyltransferases, enzymes that transfer a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine to the carbon 5 position of cytosine. DNA methylation patterns are established by the de novo DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) DNMT3A and DNMT3B and are subsequently maintained by DNMT1. Aging and age-related diseases include defined changes in 5-methylcytosine content and are generally characterized by genome-wide hypomethylation and promoter-specific hypermethylation. These changes in the epigenetic landscape represent potential disease biomarkers and are thought to contribute to age-related pathologies, such as cancer, osteoarthritis, and neurodegeneration. Some diseases, such as a hereditary form of sensory neuropathy accompanied by dementia, are directly caused by methylomic changes. Epigenetic modifications, however, are reversible and are therefore a prime target for therapeutic intervention. Numerous drugs that specifically target DNMTs are being tested in ongoing clinical trials for a variety of cancers, and data from finished trials demonstrate that some, such as 5-azacytidine, may even be superior to standard care. DNMTs, demethylases, and associated partners are dynamically shaping the methylome and demonstrate great promise with regard to rejuvenation.
PMCID: PMC3482848  PMID: 23098078
4.  Effect of different freezing rates during cryopreservation of rat mesenchymal stem cells using combinations of hydroxyethyl starch and dimethylsulfoxide 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:49.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are increasingly used as therapeutic agents as well as research tools in regenerative medicine. Development of technologies which allow storing and banking of MSC with minimal loss of cell viability, differentiation capacity, and function is required for clinical and research applications. Cryopreservation is the most effective way to preserve cells long term, but it involves potentially cytotoxic compounds and processing steps. Here, we investigate the effect of decreasing dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) concentrations in cryosolution by substituting with hydroxyethyl starch (HES) of different molecular weights using different freezing rates. Post-thaw viability, phenotype and osteogenic differentiation capacity of MSCs were analysed.
The study confirms that, for rat MSC, cryopreservation effects need to be assessed some time after, rather than immediately after thawing. MSCs cryopreserved with HES maintain their characteristic cell surface marker expression as well as the osteogenic, adipogenic and chondrogenic differentiation potential. HES alone does not provide sufficient cryoprotection for rat MSCs, but provides good cryoprotection in combination with DMSO, permitting the DMSO content to be reduced to 5%. There are indications that such a combination would seem useful not just for the clinical disadvantages of DMSO but also based on a tendency for reduced osteogenic differentiation capacity of rat MSC cryopreserved with high DMSO concentration. HES molecular weight appears to play only a minor role in its capacity to act as a cryopreservation solution for MSC. The use of a ‘straight freeze’ protocol is no less effective in maintaining post-thaw viability of MSC compared to controlled rate freezing methods.
A 5% DMSO / 5% HES solution cryopreservation solution using a ‘straight freeze’ approach can be recommended for rat MSC.
PMCID: PMC3465236  PMID: 22889198
Mesenchymal stem cells; Cryopreservation; Controlled rate freezing; Hydroxyethyl starch
5.  Microglia differentiation using a culture system for the expansion of mice non-adherent bone marrow stem cells 
Studying primary adult microglia is hampered because of the difficult isolation procedure and the low cell yield. We therefore established a differentiation protocol using a culture system developed for the expansion of non-adherent bone marrow cells.
Non-adherent bone marrow derived stem cells (NA-BMC) are derived by selective adhesion (‘preplating’) and are non adhesive adult stem cells. We investigated the changes in bone marrow cell populations by this repeated selective adhesion and compared the potential of the derived cells to differentiate towards microglia. Cells were differentiated with astrocyte conditioned medium (ACM) and granulocyte-monocyte colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF).
NA-BMC cultures show a steep raise in the fraction of stem cells during the cultivation time and the differentiation potential is of the same quality as established protocols. Around 70% of the cells are microglia defined as being positive for CD11b/CD45 and show phagocytosis activity and oxidative bursts.
The non-adherent cell system has the advantage that is produces stem cell progenitors during expansion and provides good microglial differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3495406  PMID: 22471998
Non-adherent stem cells; Bone marrow; Microglia; Differentiation
6.  The cannabinoid receptors agonist WIN55212-2 inhibits macrophageal differentiation and alters expression and phosphorylation of cell cycle control proteins 
In this study we investigated if and how cannabinoid receptor stimulation regulates macrophageal differentiation, which is one of the key steps in the immune effector reaction. For that reason, we used a well established differentiation model system of human U937 myelocytic leukemia cells that differentiate along the monocyte/macrophage lineage upon stimulation with the phorbol ester PMA. Constant cannabinoid receptor (CB) stimulation was performed using WIN55212-2, a potent synthetic CB agonist. We found that WIN55212-2 inhibited CB1/2-receptor-dependent PMA-induced differentiation of human myelocytic U937 cells into the macrophageal phenotype, which was associated with impaired vimentin, ICAM-1 and CD11b expression. In the presence of WIN55212-2, cdc2 protein and mRNA expression was progressively enhanced and Tyr-15-phosporylation of cdc2 was reduced in differentiating U937 cells. Additionally, p21Waf1/Cip1 expression was up-regulated. PMA-induced apoptosis was not enhanced by WIN55212-2 and differentiation-associated c-jun expression was not altered. In conclusion, we suppose that WIN55212-2-induced signals interferes with cell-cycle-arrest-signaling in differentiating myelocytic cells and thus inhibits macrophageal differentiation. Thus, it is possible that the cannabinoid system is able to influence one of the key steps in the immune effector function, the monocytic-macrophageal differentiation by alteration of cell cycle control proteins cdc2 and p21, and is therefore representing a promising option for therapeutic intervention in exacerbated immune reactions.
PMCID: PMC3273436  PMID: 22204398
Immune control; Macrophages; Differentiation; Cannabinoids
7.  Differentiation of mouse bone marrow derived stem cells toward microglia-like cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2011;12:35.
Microglia, the macrophages of the brain, have been implicated in the causes of neurodegenerative diseases and display a loss of function during aging. Throughout life, microglia are replenished by limited proliferation of resident microglial cells. Replenishment by bone marrow-derived progenitor cells is still under debate. In this context, we investigated the differentiation of mouse microglia from bone marrow (BM) stem cells. Furthermore, we looked at the effects of FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L), astrocyte-conditioned medium (ACM) and GM-CSF on the differentiation to microglia-like cells.
We assessed in vitro-derived microglia differentiation by marker expression (CD11b/CD45, F4/80), but also for the first time for functional performance (phagocytosis, oxidative burst) and in situ migration into living brain tissue. Integration, survival and migration were assessed in organotypic brain slices.
The cells differentiated from mouse BM show function, markers and morphology of primary microglia and migrate into living brain tissue. Flt3L displays a negative effect on differentiation while GM-CSF enhances differentiation.
We conclude that in vitro-derived microglia are the phenotypic and functional equivalents to primary microglia and could be used in cell therapy.
PMCID: PMC3175184  PMID: 21854582
bone marrow stem cells; microglia; Flt3L; GM-CSF; neurodegeneration; differentiation
8.  Angiogenic properties of aged adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells after hypoxic conditioning 
Mesenchymal stem cells derived from adipose tissue (ADSC) are multipotent stem cells, originated from the vascular-stromal compartment of fat tissue. ADSC are used as an alternative cell source for many different cell therapies, however in ischemic cardiovascular diseases the therapeutic benefit was modest. One of the reasons could be the use of autologous aged ADSC, which recently were found to have impaired functions. We therefore analysed the effects of age on age markers and angiogenic properties of ADSC. Hypoxic conditioning was investigated as a form of angiogenic stimulation.
ADSC were harvested from young (1-3 month), adult (12 month) and aged (18-24 month) mice and cultured under normoxic (20%) and hypoxic (1%) conditions for 48 h. Differences in proliferation, apoptosis and telomere length were assessed in addition to angiogenic properties of ADSC.
Proliferation potential and telomere length were decreased in aged ADSC compared to young ADSC. Frequency of apoptotic cells was higher in aged ADSC. Gene expression of pro-angiogenic factors including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), placental growth factor (PlGF) and hepatic growth factor (HGF) were down-regulated with age, which could be restored by hypoxia. Transforming growth factor (TGF-β) increased in the old ADSC but was reduced by hypoxia.
Expression of anti-angiogenic factors including thrombospondin-1 (TBS1) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) did increase in old ADSC, but could be reduced by hypoxic stimulation. Endostatin (ENDS) was the highest in aged ADSC and was also down-regulated by hypoxia. We noted higher gene expression of proteases system factors like urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), matrix metalloproteinases (MMP2 and MMP9) and PAI-1 in aged ADSC compared to young ADSC, but they decreased in old ADSC. Tube formation on matrigel was higher in the presence of conditioned medium from young ADSC in comparison to aged ADSC.
ADSC isolated from older animals show changes, including impaired proliferation and angiogenic stimulation. Angiogenic gene expression can be partially be improved by hypoxic preconditioning, however the effect is age-dependent. This supports the hypothesis that autologous ADSC from aged subjects might have an impaired therapeutic potential.
PMCID: PMC3033332  PMID: 21244679
9.  Allogeneic Non-Adherent Bone Marrow Cells Facilitate Hematopoietic Recovery but Do Not Lead to Allogeneic Engraftment 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6157.
Non adherent bone marrow derived cells (NA-BMCs) have recently been described to give rise to multiple mesenchymal phenotypes and have an impact in tissue regeneration. Therefore, the effects of murine bone marrow derived NA-BMCs were investigated with regard to engraftment capacities in allogeneic and syngeneic stem cell transplantation using transgenic, human CD4+, murine CD4−/−, HLA-DR3+ mice.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Bone marrow cells were harvested from C57Bl/6 and Balb/c wild-type mice, expanded to NA-BMCs for 4 days and characterized by flow cytometry before transplantation in lethally irradiated recipient mice. Chimerism was detected using flow cytometry for MHC-I (H-2D[b], H-2K[d]), mu/huCD4, and huHLA-DR3). Culturing of bone marrow cells in a dexamethasone containing DMEM medium induced expansion of non adherent cells expressing CD11b, CD45, and CD90. Analysis of the CD45+ showed depletion of CD4+, CD8+, CD19+, and CD117+ cells. Expanded syngeneic and allogeneic NA-BMCs were transplanted into triple transgenic mice. Syngeneic NA-BMCs protected 83% of mice from death (n = 8, CD4+ donor chimerism of 5.8±2.4% [day 40], P<.001). Allogeneic NA-BMCs preserved 62.5% (n = 8) of mice from death without detectable hematopoietic donor chimerism. Transplantation of syngeneic bone marrow cells preserved 100%, transplantation of allogeneic bone marrow cells 33% of mice from death.
NA-BMCs triggered endogenous hematopoiesis and induced faster recovery compared to bone marrow controls. These findings may be of relevance in the refinement of strategies in the treatment of hematological malignancies.
PMCID: PMC2701999  PMID: 19582154

Results 1-9 (9)