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  1. Sung TC, Su HC, Ling QD, Kumar SS, Chang Y, Hsu ST, et al.
    Biomaterials, 2020 Sep;253:120060.
    PMID: 32450407 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2020.120060
    The current differentiation process of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into cardiomyocytes to enhance the purity of hPSC-derived cardiomyocytes requires some purification processes, which are laborious processes. We developed cell sorting plates, which are prepared from coating thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) and extracellular matrix proteins. After hPSCs were induced into cardiomyocytes on the thermoresponsive surface coated with laminin-521 for 15 days, the temperature of the cell culture plates was decreased to 8-9 °C to detach the cells partially from the thermoresponsive surface. The detached cells exhibited a higher cardiomyocyte marker of cTnT than the remaining cells on the thermoresponsive surface as well as the cardiomyocytes after purification using conventional cell selection. The detached cells expressed several cardiomyocyte markers, such as α-actinin, MLC2a and NKX2.5. This study suggested that the purification of hPSC-derived cardiomyocytes using cell sorting plates with the thermoresponsive surface is a promising method for the purification of hPSC-derived cardiomyocytes without conventional laborious processes.
  2. Higuchi A, Ling QD, Kumar SS, Munusamy MA, Alarfaj AA, Chang Y, et al.
    Lab Invest, 2015 Jan;95(1):26-42.
    PMID: 25365202 DOI: 10.1038/labinvest.2014.132
    Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide a platform to obtain patient-specific cells for use as a cell source in regenerative medicine. Although iPSCs do not have the ethical concerns of embryonic stem cells, iPSCs have not been widely used in clinical applications, as they are generated by gene transduction. Recently, iPSCs have been generated without the use of genetic material. For example, protein-induced PSCs and chemically induced PSCs have been generated by the use of small and large (protein) molecules. Several epigenetic characteristics are important for cell differentiation; therefore, several small-molecule inhibitors of epigenetic-modifying enzymes, such as DNA methyltransferases, histone deacetylases, histone methyltransferases, and histone demethylases, are potential candidates for the reprogramming of somatic cells into iPSCs. In this review, we discuss what types of small chemical or large (protein) molecules could be used to replace the viral transduction of genes and/or genetic reprogramming to obtain human iPSCs.
  3. Sung TC, Liu CH, Huang WL, Lee YC, Kumar SS, Chang Y, et al.
    Biomater Sci, 2019 Oct 28.
    PMID: 31656967 DOI: 10.1039/c9bm00817a
    Current xeno-free and chemically defined methods for the differentiation of hPSCs (human pluripotent stem cells) into cardiomyocytes are not efficient and are sometimes not reproducible. Therefore, it is necessary to develop reliable and efficient methods for the differentiation of hPSCs into cardiomyocytes for future use in cardiovascular research related to drug discovery, cardiotoxicity screening, and disease modeling. We evaluated two representative differentiation methods that were reported previously, and we further developed original, more efficient methods for the differentiation of hPSCs into cardiomyocytes under xeno-free, chemically defined conditions. The developed protocol successively differentiated hPSCs into cardiomyocytes, approximately 90-97% of which expressed the cardiac marker cTnT, with beating speeds and sarcomere lengths that were similar to those of a healthy adult human heart. The optimal cell culture biomaterials for the cardiac differentiation of hPSCs were also evaluated using extracellular matrix-mimetic material-coated dishes. Synthemax II-coated and Laminin-521-coated dishes were found to be the most effective and efficient biomaterials for the cardiac differentiation of hPSCs according to the observation of hPSC-derived cardiomyocytes with high survival ratios, high beating colony numbers, a similar beating frequency to that of a healthy adult human heart, high purity levels (high cTnT expression) and longer sarcomere lengths similar to those of a healthy adult human heart.
  4. Higuchi A, Wang CT, Ling QD, Lee HH, Kumar SS, Chang Y, et al.
    Sci Rep, 2015;5:10217.
    PMID: 25970301 DOI: 10.1038/srep10217
    Human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs) exhibit heterogeneous characteristics, indicating various genotypes and differentiation abilities. The isolated hADSCs can possess different purity levels and divergent properties depending on the purification methods used. We developed a hybrid-membrane migration method that purifies hADSCs from a fat tissue solution with extremely high purity and pluripotency. A primary fat-tissue solution was permeated through the porous membranes with a pore size from 8 to 25 μm, and the membranes were incubated in cell culture medium for 15-18 days. The hADSCs that migrated from the membranes contained an extremely high percentage (e.g., >98%) of cells positive for mesenchymal stem cell markers and showed almost one order of magnitude higher expression of some pluripotency genes (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and Nanog) compared with cells isolated using the conventional culture method.
  5. Chen DC, Chen LY, Ling QD, Wu MH, Wang CT, Suresh Kumar S, et al.
    Biomaterials, 2014 May;35(14):4278-87.
    PMID: 24565521 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.02.004
    The purification of human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs) from human adipose tissue cells (stromal vascular fraction) was investigated using membrane filtration through poly(lactide-co-glycolic acid)/silk screen hybrid membranes. Membrane filtration methods are attractive in regenerative medicine because they reduce the time required to purify hADSCs (i.e., less than 30 min) compared with conventional culture methods, which require 5-12 days. hADSCs expressing the mesenchymal stem cell markers CD44, CD73, and CD90 were concentrated in the permeation solution from the hybrid membranes. Expression of the surface markers CD44, CD73, and CD99 on the cells in the permeation solution from the hybrid membranes, which were obtained using 18 mL of feed solution containing 50 × 10⁴ cells, was statistically significantly higher than that of the primary adipose tissue cells, indicating that the hADSCs can be purified in the permeation solution by the membrane filtration method. Cells expressing the stem cell-associated marker CD34 could be successfully isolated in the permeation solution, whereas CD34⁺ cells could not be purified by the conventional culture method. The hADSCs in the permeation solution demonstrated a superior capacity for osteogenic differentiation based on their alkali phosphatase activity, their osterix gene expression, and the results of mineralization analysis by Alizarin Red S and von Kossa staining compared with the cells from the suspension of human adipose tissue. These results suggest that the hADSCs capable of osteogenic differentiation preferentially permeate through the hybrid membranes.
  6. Peng IC, Yeh CC, Lu YT, Muduli S, Ling QD, Alarfaj AA, et al.
    Biomaterials, 2016 Jan;76:76-86.
    PMID: 26519650 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.10.039
    Stem cell culture is typically based on batch-type culture, which is laborious and expensive. Here, we propose a continuous harvest method for stem cells cultured on thermoresponsive nanobrush surfaces. In this method, stem cells are partially detached from the nanobrush surface by reducing the temperature of the culture medium below the critical solution temperature needed for thermoresponse. The detached stem cells are harvested by exchange into fresh culture medium. Following this, the remaining cells are continuously cultured by expansion in fresh culture medium at 37 °C. Thermoresponsive nanobrush surfaces were prepared by coating block copolymers containing polystyrene (for hydrophobic anchoring onto culture dishes) with three types of polymers: (a) polyacrylic acid with cell-binding oligopeptides, (b) thermoresponsive poly-N-isopropylacrylamide, and (c) hydrophilic poly(ethyleneglycol)methacrylate. The optimal coating durations and compositions for these copolymers to facilitate adequate attachment and detachment of human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs) and embryonic stem cells (hESCs) were determined. hADSCs and hESCs were continuously harvested for 5 and 3 cycles, respectively, via the partial detachment of cells from thermoresponsive nanobrush surfaces.
  7. Higuchi A, Kao SH, Ling QD, Chen YM, Li HF, Alarfaj AA, et al.
    Sci Rep, 2015 Dec 14;5:18136.
    PMID: 26656754 DOI: 10.1038/srep18136
    The tentative clinical application of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), such as human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells, is restricted by the possibility of xenogenic contamination resulting from the use of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) as a feeder layer. Therefore, we investigated hPSC cultures on biomaterials with different elasticities that were grafted with different nanosegments. We prepared dishes coated with polyvinylalcohol-co-itaconic acid hydrogels grafted with an oligopeptide derived from vitronectin (KGGPQVTRGDVFTMP) with elasticities ranging from 10.3 to 30.4 kPa storage moduli by controlling the crosslinking time. The hPSCs cultured on the stiffest substrates (30.4 kPa) tended to differentiate after five days of culture, whereas the hPSCs cultured on the optimal elastic substrates (25 kPa) maintained their pluripotency for over 20 passages under xeno-free conditions. These results indicate that cell culture matrices with optimal elasticity can maintain the pluripotency of hPSCs in culture.
  8. Yeh CC, Muduli S, Peng IC, Lu YT, Ling QD, Alarfaj AA, et al.
    Data Brief, 2016 Mar;6:603-8.
    PMID: 26909373 DOI: 10.1016/j.dib.2015.12.056
    This data article contains two figures and one table supporting the research article entitled: "Continuous harvest of stem cells via partial detachment from thermoresponsive nanobrush surface" [1]. The table shows coating conditions of three copolymers, poly(styrene-co-acrylic acid) grafted with oligovitronectin, poly(styrene-co-N-isopropylacrylamide) and poly(styrene-co-polyethylene glycol methacrylate) to prepare thermoresponsive surface. XPS spectra show the nitrogen peak of the polystyrene surface coated with poly(styrene-co-acrylic acid) grafted with oligovitronectin. The surface coating density analyzed from sorption of poly(styrene-co-acrylic acid) grafted with oligovitronectin by UV-vis spectroscopy is also presented.
  9. Higuchi A, Ku NJ, Tseng YC, Pan CH, Li HF, Kumar SS, et al.
    Lab Invest, 2017 10;97(10):1167-1179.
    PMID: 28869589 DOI: 10.1038/labinvest.2017.100
    Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death and disability in advanced countries. Stem cell transplantation has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy for acute and chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy. The current status of stem cell therapies for patients with myocardial infarction is discussed from a bioengineering and biomaterial perspective in this review. We describe (a) the current status of clinical trials of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) compared with clinical trials of human adult or fetal stem cells, (b) the gap between fundamental research and application of human stem cells, (c) the use of biomaterials in clinical and pre-clinical studies of stem cells, and finally (d) trends in bioengineering to promote stem cell therapies for patients with myocardial infarction. We explain why the number of clinical trials using hPSCs is so limited compared with clinical trials using human adult and fetal stem cells such as bone marrow-derived stem cells.
  10. Sung TC, Li HF, Higuchi A, Ling QD, Yang JS, Tseng YC, et al.
    J Vis Exp, 2018 02 03.
    PMID: 29443075 DOI: 10.3791/57314
    The effect of physical cues, such as the stiffness of biomaterials on the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells, has been investigated by several researchers. However, most of these investigators have used polyacrylamide hydrogels for stem cell culture in their studies. Therefore, their results are controversial because those results might originate from the specific characteristics of the polyacrylamide and not from the physical cue (stiffness) of the biomaterials. Here, we describe a protocol for preparing hydrogels, which are not based on polyacrylamide, where various stem, cells including human embryonic stem (ES) cells and human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, can be cultured. Hydrogels with varying stiffness were prepared from bioinert polyvinyl alcohol-co-itaconic acid (P-IA), with stiffness controlled by crosslinking degree by changing crosslinking time. The P-IA hydrogels grafted with and without oligopeptides derived from extracellular matrix were investigated as a future platform for stem cell culture and differentiation. The culture and passage of amniotic fluid stem cells, adipose-derived stem cells, human ES cells, and human iPS cells is described in detail here. The oligopeptide P-IA hydrogels showed superior performances, which were induced by their stiffness properties. This protocol reports the synthesis of the biomaterial, their surface manipulation, along with controlling the stiffness properties and finally, their impact on stem cell fate using xeno-free culture conditions. Based on recent studies, such modified substrates can act as future platforms to support and direct the fate of various stem cells line to different linkages; and further, regenerate and restore the functions of the lost organ or tissue.
  11. Chen YM, Chen LH, Li MP, Li HF, Higuchi A, Kumar SS, et al.
    Sci Rep, 2017 03 23;7:45146.
    PMID: 28332572 DOI: 10.1038/srep45146
    Establishing cultures of human embryonic (ES) and induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells in xeno-free conditions is essential for producing clinical-grade cells. Development of cell culture biomaterials for human ES and iPS cells is critical for this purpose. We designed several structures of oligopeptide-grafted poly (vinyl alcohol-co-itaconic acid) hydrogels with optimal elasticity, and prepared them in formations of single chain, single chain with joint segment, dual chain with joint segment, and branched-type chain. Oligopeptide sequences were selected from integrin- and glycosaminoglycan-binding domains of the extracellular matrix. The hydrogels grafted with vitronectin-derived oligopeptides having a joint segment or a dual chain, which has a storage modulus of 25 kPa, supported the long-term culture of human ES and iPS cells for over 10 passages. The dual chain and/or joint segment with cell adhesion molecules on the hydrogels facilitated the proliferation and pluripotency of human ES and iPS cells.
  12. Sung TC, Li HF, Higuchi A, Kumar SS, Ling QD, Wu YW, et al.
    Biomaterials, 2020 02;230:119638.
    PMID: 31810728 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.119638
    Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) were generated on several biomaterials from human amniotic fluid in completely xeno-free and feeder-free conditions via the transfection of pluripotent genes using a nonintegrating RNA Sendai virus vector. The effect of xeno-free culture medium on the efficiency of the establishment of human amniotic fluid stem cells from amniotic fluid was evaluated. Subsequently, the effect of cell culture biomaterials on the reprogramming efficiency was investigated during the reprogramming of human amniotic fluid stem cells into hiPSCs. Cells cultured in laminin-511, laminin-521, and Synthemax II-coated dishes and hydrogels having optimal elasticity that were engrafted with specific oligopeptides derived from vitronectin could be reprogrammed into hiPSCs with high efficiency. The reprogrammed cells expressed pluripotency proteins and had the capability to differentiate into cells derived from all three germ layers in vitro and in vivo. Human iPSCs could be generated successfully and at high efficiency (0.15-0.25%) in completely xeno-free conditions from the selection of optimal cell culture biomaterials.
  13. Sung TC, Yang JS, Yeh CC, Liu YC, Jiang YP, Lu MW, et al.
    Biomaterials, 2019 Nov;221:119411.
    PMID: 31419657 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.119411
    Commonly, stem cell culture is based on batch-type culture, which is laborious and expensive. We continuously cultured human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) on thermoresponsive dish surfaces, where hPSCs were partially detached on the same thermoresponsive dish by decreasing the temperature of the thermoresponsive dish to be below the lower critical solution temperature for only 30 min. Then, the remaining cells were continuously cultured in fresh culture medium, and the detached stem cells were harvested in the exchanged culture medium. hPSCs were continuously cultured for ten cycles on the thermoresponsive dish surface, which was prepared by coating the surface with poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-styrene) and oligovitronectin-grafted poly(acrylic acid-co-styrene) or recombinant vitronectin for hPSC binding sites to maintain hPSC pluripotency. After ten cycles of continuous culture on the thermoresponsive dish surface, the detached cells expressed pluripotency proteins and had the ability to differentiate into cells derived from the three germ layers in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the detached cells differentiated into specific cell lineages, such as cardiomyocytes, with high efficiency.
  14. Chen LH, Sung TC, Lee HH, Higuchi A, Su HC, Lin KJ, et al.
    Biomater Sci, 2019 Aug 14.
    PMID: 31411209 DOI: 10.1039/c9bm00418a
    Recombinant vitronectin-grafted hydrogels were developed by adjusting surface charge of the hydrogels with grafting of poly-l-lysine for optimal culture of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) under xeno- and feeder-free culture conditions, with elasticity regulated by crosslinking time (10-30 kPa), in contrast to conventional recombinant vitronectin coating dishes, which have a fixed stiff surface (3 GPa). hESCs proliferated on the hydrogels for over 10 passages and differentiated into the cells derived from three germ layers indicating the maintenance of pluripotency. hESCs on the hydrogels differentiated into cardiomyocytes under xeno-free culture conditions with much higher efficiency (80% of cTnT+ cells) than those on conventional recombinant vitronectin or Matrigel-coating dishes just only after 12 days of induction. It is important to have an optimal design of cell culture biomaterials where biological cues (recombinant vitronectin) and physical cues (optimal elasticity) are combined for high differentiation of hESCs into specific cell lineages, such as cardiomyocytes, under xeno-free and feeder-free culture conditions.
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