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1.  Strategies Affording Prevascularized Cell-Based Constructs for Myocardial Tissue Engineering 
Stem Cells International  2014;2014:434169.
The production of a functional cardiac tissue to be transplanted in the injured area of the infarcted myocardium represents a challenge for regenerative medicine. Most cell-based grafts are unviable because of inadequate perfusion; therefore, prevascularization might be a suitable approach for myocardial tissue engineering. To this aim, cells with a differentiation potential towards vascular and cardiac muscle phenotypes have been cocultured in 2D or 3D appropriate scaffolds. In addition to these basic approaches, more sophisticated strategies have been followed employing mixed-cell sheets, microvascular modules, and inosculation from vascular explants. Technologies exerting spatial control of vascular cells, such as topographical surface roughening and ordered patterning, represent other ways to drive scaffold vascularization. Finally, microfluidic devices and bioreactors exerting mechanical stress have also been employed for high-throughput scaling-up production in order to accelerate muscle differentiation and speeding the endothelialization process. Future research should address issues such as how to optimize cells, biomaterials, and biochemical components to improve the vascular integration of the construct within the cardiac wall, satisfying the metabolic and functional needs of the myocardial tissue.
PMCID: PMC3913389  PMID: 24511317
2.  Priming adult stem cells by hypoxic pretreatments for applications in regenerative medicine 
The efficiency of regenerative medicine can be ameliorated by improving the biological performances of stem cells before their transplantation. Several ex-vivo protocols of non-damaging cell hypoxia have been demonstrated to significantly increase survival, proliferation and post-engraftment differentiation potential of stem cells. The best results for priming cultured stem cells against a following, otherwise lethal, ischemic stress have been obtained with brief intermittent episodes of hypoxia, or anoxia, and reoxygenation in accordance with the extraordinary protection afforded by the conventional maneuver of ischemic preconditioning in severely ischemic organs. These protocols of hypoxic preconditioning can be rather easily reproduced in a laboratory; however, more suitable pharmacological interventions inducing stem cell responses similar to those activated in hypoxia are considered among the most promising solutions for future applications in cell therapy. Here we want to offer an up-to-date review of the molecular mechanisms translating hypoxia into beneficial events for regenerative medicine. To this aim the involvement of epigenetic modifications, microRNAs, and oxidative stress, mainly activated by hypoxia inducible factors, will be discussed. Stem cell adaptation to their natural hypoxic microenvironments (niche) in healthy and neoplastic tissues will be also considered.
PMCID: PMC3765890  PMID: 23985033
Hypoxia; Reoxygenation; Preconditioning; Stem cell; Apoptosis; Cell differentiation
3.  Mechanostimulation Protocols for Cardiac Tissue Engineering 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:918640.
Owing to the inability of self-replacement by a damaged myocardium, alternative strategies to heart transplantation have been explored within the last decades and cardiac tissue engineering/regenerative medicine is among the present challenges in biomedical research. Hopefully, several studies witness the constant extension of the toolbox available to engineer a fully functional, contractile, and robust cardiac tissue using different combinations of cells, template bioscaffolds, and biophysical stimuli obtained by the use of specific bioreactors. Mechanical forces influence the growth and shape of every tissue in our body generating changes in intracellular biochemistry and gene expression. That is why bioreactors play a central role in the task of regenerating a complex tissue such as the myocardium. In the last fifteen years a large number of dynamic culture devices have been developed and many results have been collected. The aim of this brief review is to resume in a single streamlined paper the state of the art in this field.
PMCID: PMC3722786  PMID: 23936858
4.  Proteomic profiling of endothelin-1-stimulated hypertrophic cardiomyocytes reveals the increase of four different desmin species and α-B-crystallin 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2008;1784(7-8):1068-1076.
We performed a proteomic investigation on primary cultures of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes after treatment with 10 nM endothelin-1 (ET1) for 48 h, an in vitro model for cardiac hypertrophy. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis profiles of cell lysates were compared after colloidal Coomassie Blue staining. 12 protein spots that significantly changed in density due to ET1 stimulation were selected for in-gel digestion and identified through mass spectrometry. Of these, 8 spots were increased and 4 were decreased. Four of the increased proteins were identified as desmin, the cardiac component of intermediate filaments and one as α-B-crystallin, a molecular chaperone that binds desmin. All the desmins increased 2- to 5-fold, and α-B-crystallin increased 2-fold after ET1 treatment. Desmin cytoskeleton has been implicated in the regulation of mitochondrial activity and distribution, as well as in the formation of amyloid bodies. Mitochondria-specific fluorescent probe MitoTracker indicated mitochondrial redistribution in hypertrophic cells. An increase of amyloid aggregates containing desmin upon treatment with ET1 was detected by filter assay. Of the four proteins that showed decreased abundance after ET1 treatment, the chaperones hsp60 and grp75 were decreased 13- and 9-fold, respectively. In conclusion, proteomic profiling of ET1-stimulated rat neonatal cardiomyocytes reveals specific changes in cardiac molecular phenotype mainly involving intermediate filament and molecular chaperone proteins.
PMCID: PMC2905868  PMID: 18472024
Endothelin; Hypertrophy; Proteomics; Desmin; Mitochondria
5.  Comparison between Culture Conditions Improving Growth and Differentiation of Blood and Bone Marrow Cells Committed to the Endothelial Cell Lineage 
The aim of this study was to compare different cell sources and culture conditions to obtain endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) with predictable antigen pattern, proliferation potential and in vitro vasculogenesis. Pig mononuclear cells were isolated from blood (PBMCs) and bone marrow (BMMCs). Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were also derived from pig bone marrow. Cells were cultured on fibronectin in the presence of a high concentration of VEGF and low IGF-1 and FGF-2 levels, or on gelatin with a lower amount of VEGF and higher IGF-1 and FGF-2 concentrations. Endothelial commitment was relieved in almost all PBMCs and BMMCs irrespective of the protocol used, whilst MSCs did not express a reliable pattern of EPC markers under these conditions. BMMCs were more prone to expand on gelatin and showed a better viability than PBMCs. Moreover, about 90% of the BMMCs pre-cultured on gelatin could adhere to a hyaluronan-based scaffold and proliferate on it up to 3 days. Pre-treatment of BMMCs on fibronectin generated well-shaped tubular structures on Matrigel, whilst BMMCs exposed to the gelatin culture condition were less prone to form vessel-like structures. MSCs formed rough tubule-like structures, irrespective of the differentiating condition used. In a relative short time, pig BMMCs could be expanded on gelatin better than PBMCs, in the presence of a low amount of VEGF. BMMCs could better specialize for capillary formation in the presence of fibronectin and an elevated concentration of VEGF, whilst pig MSCs anyway showed a limited capability to differentiate into the endothelial cell lineage.
PMCID: PMC3055624  PMID: 21406067
Blood Cells; Bone Marrow Cells; Cell Proliferation; Cell Survival; Mesenchymal Stem Cells; Physiologic Neovascularization

Results 1-5 (5)