Regenerative medicine has rapidly evolved over the past decade owing to its potential applications to improve human health. Targeted differentiations of stem cells promise to regenerate a variety of tissues and/or organs despite significant challenges. Recent studies have demonstrated the vital role of the physical microenvironment in regulating stem cell fate and improving differentiation efficiency. In this review, we summarize the main physical cues that are crucial for controlling stem cell differentiation. Recent advances in the technologies for the construction of physical microenvironment and their implications in controlling stem cell fate are also highlighted.
Benzene is a known hematotoxic and leukemogenic agent with hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) niche being the potential target. Occupational and environmental exposure to benzene has been linked to the incidences of hematological disorders and malignancies. Previous studies have shown that benzene may act via multiple modes of action targeting HSCs niche, which include induction of chromosomal and micro RNA aberrations, leading to genetic and epigenetic modification of stem cells and probable carcinogenesis. However, understanding the mechanism linking benzene to the HSCs niche dysregulation is challenging due to complexity of its microenvironment. The niche is known to comprise of cell populations accounted for HSCs and their committed progenitors of lymphoid, erythroid, and myeloid lineages. Thus, it is fundamental to address novel approaches via lineage-directed strategy to elucidate precise mechanism involved in benzene-induced toxicity targeting HSCs and progenitors of different lineages. Here, we review the key genetic and epigenetic factors that mediate hematotoxicological effects by benzene and its metabolites in targeting HSCs niche. Overall, the use of combined genetic, epigenetic, and lineage-directed strategies targeting the HSCs niche is fundamental to uncover the key mechanisms in benzene-induced hematological disorders and malignancies.
The unique properties of mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) to self-renew and their multipotentiality have rendered them attractive to researchers and clinicians. In addition to the differentiation potential, the broad repertoire of secreted trophic factors (cytokines) exhibiting diverse functions such as immunomodulation, anti-inflammatory activity, angiogenesis and anti-apoptotic, commonly referred to as the MSC secretome, has gained immense attention in the past few years. There is enough evidence to show that the one important pathway by which MSCs participate in tissue repair and regeneration is through its secretome. Concurrently, a large body of MSC research has focused on characterization of the MSC secretome; this includes both soluble factors and factors released in extracellular vesicles, for example, exosomes and microvesicles. This review provides an overview of our current understanding of the MSC secretome with respect to their potential clinical applications.
A central question in stem cell biology is the relationship between stem cells and their niche. Although previous reports have uncovered how signaling molecules released by niche cells support stem cell function, the role of the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) within the niche is unclear. Here, we show that upon activation, skeletal muscle stem cells (satellite cells) induce local remodeling of the ECM and the deposition of laminin-α1 and laminin-α5 into the basal lamina of the satellite cell niche. Genetic ablation of laminin-α1, disruption of integrin-α6 signaling or blocking matrix metalloproteinase activity impairs satellite cell expansion and self-renewal. Collectively, our findings establish that remodeling of the ECM is an integral process of stem cell activity to support propagation and self-renewal, and may explain the effect laminin-α1-containing supports have on embryonic and adult stem cells, as well as the regenerative activity of exogenous laminin-111 therapy.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) are sensitive targets for benzene-induced hematotoxicity and leukemogenesis. The impact of benzene exposure on the complex microenvironment of HSCs and HPCs remains elusive. This study aims to investigate the mechanism linking benzene exposure to targeting HSCs and HPCs using phenotypic and clonogenic analyses. Mouse bone marrow (BM) cells were exposed ex vivo to the benzene metabolite, 1,4-benzoquinone (1,4-BQ), for 24h. Expression of cellular surface antigens for HSC (Sca-1), myeloid (Gr-1, CD11b), and lymphoid (CD45, CD3e) populations were confirmed by flow cytometry. The clonogenicity of cells was studied using the colony-forming unit (CFU) assay for multilineage (CFU-GM and CFU-GEMM) and single-lineage (CFU-E, BFU-E, CFU-G, and CFU-M) progenitors. 1,4-BQ demonstrated concentration-dependent cytotoxicity in mouse BM cells. The percentage of apoptotic cells increased (p < 0.05) following 1,4-BQ exposure. Exposure to 1,4-BQ showed no significant effect on CD3e(+) cells but reduced the total counts of Sca-1(+), CD11b(+), Gr-1(+), and CD45(+) cells at 7 and 12 μM (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the CFU assay showed reduced (p < 0.05) clonogenicity in 1,4-BQ-treated cells. 1,4-BQ induced CFU-dependent cytotoxicity by significantly inhibiting colony growth for CFU-E, BFU-E, CFU-G, and CFU-M starting at a low concentration of exposure (5μM); whereas for the CFU-GM and CFU-GEMM, the inhibition of colony growth was remarkable only at 7 and 12μM of 1,4-BQ, respectively. Taken together, 1,4-BQ caused lineage-related cytotoxicity in mouse HPCs, demonstrating greater toxicity in single-lineage progenitors than in those of multi-lineage.