A potential therapy for myocardial infarction is to deliver isolated stem cells to the infarcted site. A key issue with this therapy is to have at one's disposal a suitable cell delivery system which, besides being able to support cell proliferation and differentiation, may also provide handling and elastic properties which do not affect cardiac contractile function. In this study an elastic scaffold, obtained combining a poly(ether)urethane-polydimethylsiloxane (PEtU-PDMS) semi-interpenetrating polymeric network (s-IPN) with fibrin, was used as a substrate for in vitro studies of human amniotic mesenchymal stromal cells (hAMSC) growth and differentiation.
After hAMSC seeding on the fibrin side of the scaffold, cell metabolic activity and proliferation were evaluated by WST-1 and bromodeoxyuridine assays. Morphological changes and mRNAs expression for cardiac differentiation markers in the hAMSCs were examined using immunofluorescence and RT-PCR analysis. The beginning of cardiomyogenic commitment of hAMSCs grown on the scaffold was induced, for the first time in this cell population, by a nitric oxide (NO) treatment. Following NO treatment hAMSCs show morphological changes, an increase of the messenger cardiac differentiation markers [troponin I (TnI) and NK2 transcription factor related locus 5 (Nkx2.5)] and a modulation of the endothelial markers [vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and kinase insert domain receptor (KDR)].
The results of this study suggest that the s-IPN PEtU-PDMS/fibrin combined scaffold allows a better proliferation and metabolic activity of hAMSCs cultured up to 14 days, compared to the ones grown on plastic dishes. In addition, the combined scaffold sustains the beginning of hAMSCs differentiation process towards a cardiomyogenic lineage.