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Human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) hold great promise for regenerative medicine due to their multipotent differentiation capacity and immunomodulatory capabilities. Substantial research has elucidated mechanisms by which extracellular cues regulate hMSC fate decisions, but considerably less work has addressed how material properties can be leveraged to maintain undifferentiated stem cells. Here, we show that synthetic culture substrates designed to exhibit moderate cell-repellency promote high stemness and low oxidative stress-two indicators of naïve, healthy stem cells-in commercial and patient-derived hMSCs. Furthermore, the material-mediated effect on cell behavior can be tuned by altering the molar percentage (mol %) and/or chain length of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), the repellant block linked to hydrophobic poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) in the copolymer backbone. Nano- and angstrom-scale characterization of the cell-material interface reveals that PEG interrupts the adhesive PCL domains in a chain-length-dependent manner; this prevents hMSCs from forming mature focal adhesions and subsequently promotes cell-cell adhesions that require connexin-43. This study is the first to demonstrate that intrinsic properties of synthetic materials can be tuned to regulate the stemness and redox capacity of hMSCs and provides new insight for designing highly scalable, programmable culture platforms for clinical translation.
This review arose from a discussion of regenerative therapies to treat optic nerve degeneration in glaucoma at the 2015 Lasker/IRRF Initiative on Astrocytes and Glaucomatous Neurodegeneration. In addition to the authors, participants included Jonathan Crowston, Andrew Huberman, Elaine Johnson, Richard Lu, Hemai Phatnami, Rebecca Sappington, and Don Zack. Glaucoma is a neurodegenerative disease of the optic nerve, and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. The disease progresses as sensitivity to intraocular pressure (IOP) is conveyed through the optic nerve head to distal retinal ganglion cell (RGC) projections. Because the nerve and retina are components of the central nervous system (CNS), their intrinsic regenerative capacity is limited. However, recent research in regenerative therapies has resulted in multiple breakthroughs that may unlock the optic nerve's regenerative potential. Increasing levels of Schwann-cell derived trophic factors and reducing potent cell-intrinsic suppressors of regeneration have resulted in axonal regeneration even beyond the optic chiasm. Despite this success, many challenges remain. RGC axons must be able to form new connections with their appropriate targets in central brain regions and these connections must be retinotopically correct. Furthermore, for new axons penetrating the optic projection, oligodendrocyte glia must provide myelination. Additionally, reactive gliosis and inflammation that increase the regenerative capacity must be outweigh pro-apoptotic processes to create an environment within which maximal regeneration can occur.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding RNAs that provide an endogenous negative feedback mechanism for translation of messenger RNA (mRNA) into protein. Single miRNAs can regulate hundreds of mRNAs, enabling miRNAs to orchestrate robust biological responses by simultaneously impacting multiple gene networks. MiRNAs can act as master regulators of normal and pathological tissue development, homeostasis, and repair, which has motivated expanding efforts toward the development of technologies for therapeutically modulating miRNA activity for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applications. This review highlights the tools currently available for miRNA inhibition and their recent therapeutic applications for improving tissue repair.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The design of injectable biomaterials has attracted considerable attention in recent years. Many injectable biomaterials, such as hydrogels and calcium phosphate cements (CPCs), have nanoscale pores that limit the rate of cellular migration and proliferation. While introduction of macroporosity has been suggested to increase cellular infiltration and tissue healing, many conventional methods for generating macropores often require harsh processing conditions that preclude their use in injectable foams. In recent years, processes such as porogen leaching, gas foaming, and emulsion-templating have been adapted to generate macroporosity in injectable CPCs, hydrogels, and hydrophobic polymers. While some of the more mature injectable foam technologies have been evaluated in clinical trials, there are challenges remaining to be addressed, such as the biocompatibility and ultimate fate of the sacrificial phase used to generate pores within the foam after it sets in situ. Furthermore, while implantable scaffolds can be washed extensively to remove undesirable impurities, all of the components required to synthesize injectable foams must be injected into the defect. Thus, every compound in the foam must be biocompatible and noncytotoxic at the concentrations utilized. As future research addresses these critical challenges, injectable macroporous foams are anticipated to have an increasingly significant impact on improving patient outcomes for a number of clinical procedures.
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Disorders of the brain and spinal cord are common worldwide problems but have remained very difficult to treat. As a group they have diverse etiologies and can be due to trauma, infection, tumors, genetic mutations and environmental insults. Though distinct in etiology, neurological disorders share an overall intractability as current therapies are largely limited to treatment of symptoms. Improved outcomes are further constrained by the minimal endogenous capacity of the brain and spinal cord for repair. Spectacular recent scientific advances, however, suggest that new stem cell-based approaches may change this undesirable situation. In this review, I will broadly outline the challenges of studying and treating disorders of the brain and spinal cord. I will review ongoing attempts to use stem cell-based therapies to both model and treat neurological disorders. While this field is in its infancy, expected advances and needed breakthroughs point to a future where patient-derived stem cells will be the basis for the emerging discipline of regenerative neurology.
The adult mammalian heart possesses little regenerative potential following injury. Fibrosis due to activation of cardiac fibroblasts impedes cardiac regeneration and contributes to loss of contractile function, pathological remodelling and susceptibility to arrhythmias. Cardiac fibroblasts account for a majority of cells in the heart and represent a potential cellular source for restoration of cardiac function following injury through phenotypic reprogramming to a myocardial cell fate. Here we show that four transcription factors, GATA4, HAND2, MEF2C and TBX5, can cooperatively reprogram adult mouse tail-tip and cardiac fibroblasts into beating cardiac-like myocytes in vitro. Forced expression of these factors in dividing non-cardiomyocytes in mice reprograms these cells into functional cardiac-like myocytes, improves cardiac function and reduces adverse ventricular remodelling following myocardial infarction. Our results suggest a strategy for cardiac repair through reprogramming fibroblasts resident in the heart with cardiogenic transcription factors or other molecules.
Human lung research has made remarkable progress over the last century largely through the use of animal models of disease. The challenge for the future is to translate these findings into human disease and bring about meaningful disease modification or even cure. The ability to generate transformative therapies in the future will require human tissue, currently scarce under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, patient-derived somatic cells are often poorly characterized and have a limited life span in culture. Moreover, these cells are frequently obtained from patients with end-stage disease exposed to multiple drug therapies, leaving researchers with questions about whether their findings recapitulate disease-initiating processes or are simply the result of pharmacological intervention or subsequent host responses. The goal of studying early disease in multiple cell and tissue types has driven interest in the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to model lung disease. These cells provide an alternative model for relevant lung research and hold promise in particular for studying the initiation of disease processes in genetic conditions such as heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension as well as other lung diseases. In this Perspective, we focus on potential iPSC use in pulmonary vascular disease research as a model for iPSC use in many types of advanced lung disease.
The enthusiasm surrounding the clinical potential of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is tempered by the fact that key issues regarding their safety, efficacy, and long-term benefits have thus far been suboptimal. Small molecules can potentially relieve these problems at major junctions of stem cell biology and regenerative therapy. In this review we will introduce recent advances in these important areas and the first generation of small molecules used in the regenerative context. Current chemical biology studies will provide the archetype for future interdisciplinary collaborations and improve clinical benefits of cell-based therapies.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Acute ischemic injury and chronic cardiomyopathies damage healthy heart tissue. Dead cells are gradually replaced by a fibrotic scar, which disrupts the normal electromechanical continuum of the ventricular muscle and compromises its pumping capacity. Recent studies in animal models of ischemic cardiomyopathy suggest that transplantation of various stem cell preparations can improve heart recovery after injury. The first clinical trials in patients produced some encouraging results, showing modest benefits. Most of the positive effects are probably because of a favorable paracrine influence of stem cells on the disease microenvironment. Stem cell therapy attenuates inflammation, reduces apoptosis of surrounding cells, induces angiogenesis, and lessens the extent of fibrosis. However, little new heart tissue is formed. The current challenge is to find ways to improve the engraftment, long-term survival and appropriate differentiation of transplanted stem cells within the cardiovascular tissue. Hence, there has been a surge of interest in pluripotent stem cells with robust cardiogenic potential, as well as in the inherent repair and regenerative mechanisms of the heart. Recent discoveries on the biology of adult stem cells could have relevance for cardiac regeneration. Here, we discuss current developments in the field of cardiac repair and regeneration, and present our ideas about the future of stem cell therapy.
One goal of regenerative medicine is to instructively convert adult cells into other cell types for tissue repair and regeneration. Although isolated examples of adult cell reprogramming are known, there is no general understanding of how to turn one cell type into another in a controlled manner. Here, using a strategy of re-expressing key developmental regulators in vivo, we identify a specific combination of three transcription factors (Ngn3 (also known as Neurog3) Pdx1 and Mafa) that reprograms differentiated pancreatic exocrine cells in adult mice into cells that closely resemble beta-cells. The induced beta-cells are indistinguishable from endogenous islet beta-cells in size, shape and ultrastructure. They express genes essential for beta-cell function and can ameliorate hyperglycaemia by remodelling local vasculature and secreting insulin. This study provides an example of cellular reprogramming using defined factors in an adult organ and suggests a general paradigm for directing cell reprogramming without reversion to a pluripotent stem cell state.