Today, articular cartilage damage is a major health problem, affecting people of all ages. The existing conventional articular cartilage repair techniques, such as autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), microfracture, and mosaicplasty, have many shortcomings which negatively affect their clinical outcomes. Therefore, it is essential to develop an alternative and efficient articular repair technique that can address those shortcomings. Cartilage tissue engineering, which aims to create a tissue-engineered cartilage derived from human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), shows great promise for improving articular cartilage defect therapy. However, the use of tissue-engineered cartilage for the clinical therapy of articular cartilage defect still remains challenging. Despite the importance of mechanical loading to create a functional cartilage has been well demonstrated, the specific type of mechanical loading and its optimal loading regime is still under investigation. This review summarizes the most recent advances in the effects of mechanical loading on human MSCs. First, the existing conventional articular repair techniques and their shortcomings are highlighted. The important parameters for the evaluation of the tissue-engineered cartilage, including chondrogenic and hypertrophic differentiation of human MSCs are briefly discussed. The influence of mechanical loading on human MSCs is subsequently reviewed and the possible mechanotransduction signaling is highlighted. The development of non-hypertrophic chondrogenesis in response to the changing mechanical microenvironment will aid in the establishment of a tissue-engineered cartilage for efficient articular cartilage repair.
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), a type of adult stem cells that hold great potential in clinical applications (e.g., regenerative medicine and cell-based therapy) due to their ability to differentiate into multiple types of specialized cells and secrete soluble factors which can initiate tissue repair and regulate immune response. hMSCs need to be expanded in vitro or cryopreserved to obtain sufficient cell numbers required for clinical applications. However, long-term in vitro culture-expanded hMSCs may raise some biosafety concerns (e.g., chromosomal abnormality and malignant transformation) and compromised functional properties, limiting their use in clinical applications. To avoid those adverse effects, it is essential to cryopreserve hMSCs at early passage and pool them for off-the-shelf use in clinical applications. However, the existing cryopreservation methods for hMSCs have some notable limitations. To address these limitations, several approaches have to be taken in order to produce healthy and efficacious cryopreserved hMSCs for clinical trials, which remains challenging to date. Therefore, a noteworthy amount of resources has been utilized in research in optimization of the cryopreservation methods, development of freezing devices, and formulation of cryopreservation media to ensure that hMSCs maintain their therapeutic characteristics without raising biosafety concerns following cryopreservation. Biobanking of hMSCs would be a crucial strategy to facilitate clinical applications in the future.
Human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hASCs) are an ideal cell source for regenerative medicine due to their capabilities of multipotency and the readily accessibility of adipose tissue. They have been found residing in a relatively low oxygen tension microenvironment in the body, but the physiological condition has been overlooked in most studies. In light of the escalating need for culturing hASCs under their physiological condition, this review summarizes the most recent advances in the hypoxia effect on hASCs. We first highlight the advantages of using hASCs in regenerative medicine and discuss the influence of hypoxia on the phenotype and functionality of hASCs in terms of viability, stemness, proliferation, differentiation, soluble factor secretion, and biosafety. We provide a glimpse of the possible cellular mechanism that involved under hypoxia and discuss the potential clinical applications. We then highlight the existing challenges and discuss the future perspective on the use of hypoxic-treated hASCs.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold many advantages over embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and other somatic cells in clinical applications. MSCs are multipotent cells with strong immunosuppressive properties. They can be harvested from various locations in the human body (e.g., bone marrow and adipose tissues). Cryopreservation represents an efficient method for the preservation and pooling of MSCs, to obtain the cell counts required for clinical applications, such as cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine. Upon cryopreservation, it is important to preserve MSCs functional properties including immunomodulatory properties and multilineage differentiation ability. Further, a biosafety evaluation of cryopreserved MSCs is essential prior to their clinical applications. However, the existing cryopreservation methods for MSCs are associated with notable limitations, leading to a need for new or improved methods to be established for a more efficient application of cryopreserved MSCs in stem cell-based therapies. We review the important parameters for cryopreservation of MSCs and the existing cryopreservation methods for MSCs. Further, we also discuss the challenges to be addressed in order to preserve MSCs effectively for clinical applications.
An outstanding amount of resources has been used in research on manipulation of human stem cells, especially mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), for various clinical applications. However, human MSCs have not been fully utilized in clinical applications due to restrictions with regard to their certain biosafety and bioefficacy concerns, for example, genetic abnormality, tumor formation, induction of host immune response and failure of homing and engraftment. This review summarizes the biosafety and bioefficacy assessment of human MSCs in terms of genetic stability, tumorigenicity, immunogenicity, homing and engraftment. The strategies used to reduce the biosafety concerns and improve the bioefficacy of human MSCs are highlighted. In addition, the approaches that can be implemented to improve their biosafety and bioefficacy assessment are briefly discussed.
Cryopreservation is the only existing method of storage of human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) for clinical use. However, cryopreservation has been shown to be detrimental to ASCs, particularly in term of cell viability. To restore the viability of cryopreserved ASCs, it is proposed to culture the cells in a hypoxic condition. To this end, we aim to investigate the effect of hypoxia on the cryopreserved human ASCs in terms of not only cell viability, but also their growth and stemness properties, which have not been explored yet. In this study, human ASCs were cultured under four different conditions: fresh (non-cryopreserved) cells cultured in 1) normoxia (21% O2) and 2) hypoxia (2% O2) and cryopreserved cells cultured in 3) normoxia and 4) hypoxia. ASCs at passage 3 were subjected to assessment of viability, proliferation, differentiation, and expression of stemness markers and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α). We found that hypoxia enhances the viability and the proliferation rate of cryopreserved ASCs. Further, hypoxia upregulates HIF-1α in cryopreserved ASCs, which in turn activates chondrogenic genes to promote chondrogenic differentiation. In conclusion, hypoxic-preconditioned cryopreserved ASCs could be an ideal cell source for cartilage repair and regeneration.
Cardiac myofibroblast differentiation, as one of the most important cellular responses to heart injury, plays a critical role in cardiac remodeling and failure. While biochemical cues for this have been extensively investigated, the role of mechanical cues, e.g., extracellular matrix stiffness and mechanical strain, has also been found to mediate cardiac myofibroblast differentiation. Cardiac fibroblasts in vivo are typically subjected to a specific spatiotemporally changed mechanical microenvironment. When exposed to abnormal mechanical conditions (e.g., increased extracellular matrix stiffness or strain), cardiac fibroblasts can undergo myofibroblast differentiation. To date, the impact of mechanical cues on cardiac myofibroblast differentiation has been studied both in vitro and in vivo. Most of the related in vitro research into this has been mainly undertaken in two-dimensional cell culture systems, although a few three-dimensional studies that exist revealed an important role of dimensionality. However, despite remarkable advances, the comprehensive mechanisms for mechanoregulation of cardiac myofibroblast differentiation remain elusive. In this review, we introduce important parameters for evaluating cardiac myofibroblast differentiation and then discuss the development of both in vitro (two and three dimensional) and in vivo studies on mechanoregulation of cardiac myofibroblast differentiation. An understanding of the development of cardiac myofibroblast differentiation in response to changing mechanical microenvironment will underlie potential targets for future therapy of cardiac fibrosis and failure.
Cryopreservation is the most promising way for long-term storage of biological samples e.g., single cells and cellular structures. Among various cryopreservation methods, vitrification is advantageous by employing high cooling rate to avoid the formation of harmful ice crystals in cells. Most existing vitrification methods adopt direct contact of cells with liquid nitrogen to obtain high cooling rates, which however causes the potential contamination and difficult cell collection. To address these limitations, we developed a non-contact vitrification device based on an ultra-thin freezing film to achieve high cooling/warming rate and avoid direct contact between cells and liquid nitrogen. A high-throughput cell printer was employed to rapidly generate uniform cell-laden microdroplets into the device, where the microdroplets were hung on one side of the film and then vitrified by pouring the liquid nitrogen onto the other side via boiling heat transfer. Through theoretical and experimental studies on vitrification processes, we demonstrated that our device offers a high cooling/warming rate for vitrification of the NIH 3T3 cells and human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs) with maintained cell viability and differentiation potential. This non-contact vitrification device provides a novel and effective way to cryopreserve cells at high throughput and avoid the contamination and collection problems.
Paper-based devices have been broadly used for the point-of-care detection of dengue viral nucleic acids due to their simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and readily observable colorimetric readout. However, their moderate sensitivity and functionality have limited their applications. Despite the above-mentioned advantages, paper substrates are lacking in their ability to control fluid flow, in contrast to the flow control enabled by polymer substrates (e.g., agarose) with readily tunable pore size and porosity. Herein, taking the benefits from both materials, the authors propose a strategy to create a hybrid substrate by incorporating agarose into the test strip to achieve flow control for optimal biomolecule interactions. As compared to the unmodified test strip, this strategy allows sensitive detection of targets with an approximately tenfold signal improvement. Additionally, the authors showcase the potential of functionality improvement by creating multiple test zones for semi-quantification of targets, suggesting that the number of visible test zones is directly proportional to the target concentration. The authors further demonstrate the potential of their proposed strategy for clinical assessment by applying it to their prototype sample-to-result test strip to sensitively and semi-quantitatively detect dengue viral RNA from the clinical blood samples. This proposed strategy holds significant promise for detecting various targets for diverse future applications.
Ingestion of indospicine-contaminated camel and horse meat has caused fatal liver injury to dogs in Australia, and it is currently not known if such contaminated meat may pose a human health risk upon dietary exposure. To date, indospicine-related research has tended to focus on analytical aspects, with little information on post-harvest management of indospicine-contaminated meat. In this study, indospicine degradation was investigated in both aqueous solution and also contaminated meat, under a range of conditions. Aqueous solutions of indospicine and indospicine-contaminated camel meat were microwaved (180 °C) or autoclaved (121 °C) with the addition of food-grade additives [0.05% (v/v) acetic acid or 0.05% (w/v) sodium bicarbonate] for 0, 15, 30, and 60 min. An aqueous sodium bicarbonate solution demonstrated the greatest efficacy in degrading indospicine, with complete degradation after 15 min of heating in a microwave or autoclave; concomitant formation of indospicine degradation products, namely, 2-aminopimelamic and 2-aminopimelic acids, was observed. Similar treatment of indospicine-contaminated camel meat with aqueous sodium bicarbonate resulted in 50% degradation after 15 min of heating in an autoclave and 100% degradation after 15 min of heating in a microwave. The results suggest that thermo-alkaline aqueous treatment has potential as a pragmatic post-harvest handling technique in reducing indospicine levels in indospicine-contaminated meat.
The need to have a better and safer culture condition for expansion of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is crucial particularly to prevent infection and immune rejection. This is normally associated with the use of animal-based serum in the culture media for cell expansion. The aim of this study is to investigate alternative culture conditions which may provide better and safer environment for cell growth. In the present study, human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) at passage 3 were subjected to treatment in 4 conditions: (1) 21 % O2 with fetal bovine serum (FBS), (2) 21 % O2 without FBS, (3) 2 % O2 with FBS and (4) 2 % O2 without FBS followed by subsequent analysis of their phenotype, viability and functionality. We observed that ASCs cultured in all conditions present no significant phenotypic changes. It was found that ASCs cultured in 2 % O2 without serum showed an increase in viability and growth to a certain extent when compared to those cultured in 21 % O2 without serum. However, ASCs cultured in 2 % O2 without serum displayed a relatively low adipogenic and osteogenic potential. On the other hand, interestingly, there was a positive enhancement in chondrogenic differentiation of ASCs cultured in 21 % O2 without serum. Our findings suggest that different culture conditions may be suitable for different indications. In summary, ASCs cultured in serum-free condition can still survive, proliferate and undergo subsequent adipogenic, osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation. Therefore, FBS is feasible to be excluded for culture of ASCs, which avoids clinical complications.
Adipose tissue-derived stromal cells (ASCs) natively reside in a relatively low-oxygen tension (i.e., hypoxic) microenvironment in human body. Low oxygen tension (i.e., in situ normoxia), has been known to enhance the growth and survival rate of ASCs, which, however, may lead to the risk of tumourigenesis. Here, we investigated the tumourigenic potential of ASCs under their physiological condition to ensure their safe use in regenerative therapy. Human ASCs isolated from subcutaneous fat were cultured in atmospheric O2 concentration (21% O2) or in situ normoxia (2% O2). We found that ASCs retained their surface markers, tri-lineage differentiation potential, and self-renewal properties under in situ normoxia without altering their morphology. In situ normoxia displayed a higher proliferation and viability of ASCs with less DNA damage as compared to atmospheric O2 concentration. Moreover, low oxygen tension significantly up-regulated VEGF and bFGF mRNA expression and protein secretion while reducing the expression level of tumour suppressor genes p16, p21, p53, and pRb. However, there were no significant differences in ASCs telomere length and their relative telomerase activity when cultured at different oxygen concentrations. Collectively, even with high proliferation and survival rate, ASCs have a low tendency of developing tumour under in situ normoxia. These results suggest 2% O2 as an ideal culture condition for expanding ASCs efficiently while maintaining their characteristics.
Cryopreservation represents an effective technique to maintain the functional properties of human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) and allows pooling of cells via long-term storage for clinical applications, e.g., cell-based therapies. It is crucial to reduce freezing injury during the cryopreservation process by loading the ASCs with the optimum concentration of suitable cryoprotective agents (CPAs). In this study, human ASCs were preserved for 3 months in different combinations of CPAs, including 1) 0.25 M trehalose; 2) 5% dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO); 3) 10% DMSO; 4) 5% DMSO + 20% fetal bovine serum (FBS); 5) 10% DMSO + 20% FBS; 6) 10% DMSO + 90% FBS. Interestingly, even with a reduction of DMSO to 5% and without FBS, cryopreserved ASCs maintained high cell viability comparable with standard cryomedium (10% DMSO + 90% FBS), with normal cell phenotype and proliferation rate. Cryopreserved ASCs also maintained their differentiation capability (e.g., to adipocytes, osteocytes and chondrocytes) and showed an enhanced expression level of stemness markers (e.g., NANOG, OCT-4, SOX-2 and REX-1). Our findings suggest that 5% DMSO without FBS may be an ideal CPA for an efficient long-term cryopreservation of human ASCs. These results aid in establishing standardized xeno-free long-term cryopreservation of human ASCs for clinical applications.
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) hold great promise in cardiac fibrosis therapy, due to their potential ability of inhibiting cardiac myofibroblast differentiation (a hallmark of cardiac fibrosis). However, the mechanism involved in their effects remains elusive. To explore this, it is necessary to develop an in vitro cardiac fibrosis model that incorporates pore size and native tissue-mimicking matrix stiffness, which may regulate cardiac myofibroblast differentiation. In the present study, collagen coated polyacrylamide hydrogel substrates were fabricated, in which the pore size was adjusted without altering the matrix stiffness. Stiffness is shown to regulate cardiac myofibroblast differentiation independently of pore size. Substrate at a stiffness of 30 kPa, which mimics the stiffness of native fibrotic cardiac tissue, was found to induce cardiac myofibroblast differentiation to create in vitro cardiac fibrosis model. Conditioned medium of hMSCs was applied to the model to determine its role and inhibitory mechanism on cardiac myofibroblast differentiation. It was found that hMSCs secrete hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) to inhibit cardiac myofibroblast differentiation via downregulation of angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R) and upregulation of Smad7. These findings would aid in establishment of the therapeutic use of hMSCs in cardiac fibrosis therapy in future.