skip to main content

Title: Shear stress magnitude and transforming growth factor-βeta 1 regulate endothelial to mesenchymal transformation in a three-dimensional culture microfluidic device
Normal fibroblasts are present within the extracellular matrix (ECM). They can become activated, leading to increased proliferation and ECM protein secretion such as collagen type I to promote tissue remodeling. These cells are also involved in adult pathologies including cancer metastasis and cardiac and renal fibrosis. One source of activated fibroblasts is endothelial to mesenchymal transformation (EndMT), in which endothelial cells lose their cell–cell and cell–ECM adhesions, gain invasive properties, and become mesenchymal cells. While EndMT is well characterized in developmental biology, the mechanisms and functional role of EndMT in adult physiology and pathology have not been fully investigated. A microfluidic device with an incorporated three-dimensional ECM chamber was developed to study the role of combined steady fluid shear stress magnitudes and transforming growth factor-βeta 1 (TGF-β1) on EndMT. Low (1 dyne per cm 2 ) steady shear stress and TGF-β1 exposure induced EndMT in endothelial cells, including upregulation of mesenchymal protein and gene expression markers. Cells exposed to TGF-β1 and high (20 dynes per cm 2 ) steady shear stress did not undergo EndMT, and protein and gene expression of mesenchymal markers was significantly downregulated. Mesenchymally transformed cells under static conditions with and without TGF-β1 showed significantly more collagen more » production when compared to fluidic conditions. These results confirm that both low shear stress and TGF-β1 induce EndMT in endothelial cells, but this process can be prevented by exposure to physiologically relevant high shear stress. These results also show conditions most likely to cause tissue pathology. « less
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
RSC Advances
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
85457 to 85467
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Human cerebral organoids derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide novel tools for recapitulating the cytoarchitecture of human brain and for studying biological mechanisms of neurological disorders. However, the heterotypic interactions of neurovascular units, composed of neurons, pericytes, astrocytes, and brain microvascular endothelial cells, in brain-like tissues are less investigated. The objective of this study is to investigate the impacts of neural spheroids and vascular spheroids interactions on the regional brain-like tissue patterning in cortical spheroids derived from human iPSCs. Hybrid neurovascular spheroids were constructed by fusion of human iPSC-derived cortical neural progenitor cell (iNPC) spheroids, endothelial cell (iEC) spheroids, and the supporting human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Single hybrid spheroids were constructed at different iNPC: iEC: MSC ratios of 4:2:0, 3:2:1 2:2:2, and 1:2:3 in low-attachment 96-well plates. The incorporation of MSCs upregulated the secretion levels of cytokines VEGF-A, PGE2, and TGF-β1 in hybrid spheroid system. In addition, tri-cultured spheroids had high levels of TBR1 (deep cortical layer VI) and Nkx2.1 (ventral cells), and matrix remodeling genes, MMP2 and MMP3, as well as Notch-1, indicating the crucial role of matrix remodeling and cell-cell communications on cortical spheroid and organoid patterning. Moreover, tri-culture system elevated blood-brain barrier genemore »expression (e.g., GLUT-1), CD31, and tight junction protein ZO1 expression. Treatment with AMD3100, a CXCR4 antagonist, showed the immobilization of MSCs during spheroid fusion, indicating a CXCR4-dependent manner of hMSC migration and homing. This forebrain-like model has potential applications in understanding heterotypic cell-cell interactions and novel drug screening in diseased human brain.

    « less
  2. Calcific nodules form in the fibrosa layer of the aortic valve in calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD). Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are normally found in the valve spongiosa, are located local to calcific nodules. Previous work suggests that GAGs induce endothelial to mesenchymal transformation (EndMT), a phenomenon described by endothelial cells’ loss of the endothelial markers, gaining of migratory properties, and expression of mesenchymal markers such as alpha smooth muscle actin (α-SMA). EndMT is known to play roles in valvulogenesis and may provide a source of activated fibroblast with a potential role in CAVD progression. In this study, a 3D collagen hydrogel co-culture model of the aortic valve fibrosa was created to study the role of EndMT-derived activated valvular interstitial cell behavior in CAVD progression. Porcine aortic valve interstitial cells (PAVIC) and porcine aortic valve endothelial cells (PAVEC) were cultured within collagen I hydrogels containing the GAGs chondroitin sulfate (CS) or hyaluronic acid (HA). The model was used to study alkaline phosphatase (ALP) enzyme activity, cellular proliferation and matrix invasion, protein expression, and calcific nodule formation of the resident cell populations. CS and HA were found to alter ALP activity and increase cell proliferation. CS increased the formation of calcified nodulesmore »without the addition of osteogenic culture medium. This model has applications in the improvement of bioprosthetic valves by making replacements more micro-compositionally dynamic, as well as providing a platform for testing new pharmaceutical treatments of CAVD.« less
  3. Osteoarthritis (OA), a chronic and degenerative joint disease, remains a challenge in treatment due to the lack of disease-modifying therapies. As a promising therapeutic agent, adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) have an effective anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective paracrine effect that can be enhanced by genetic modification. Unfortunately, direct cell delivery without matrix support often results in poor viability of therapeutic cells. Herein, a hydrogel implant approach that enabled intra-articular delivery of gene-engineered ADSCs was developed for improved therapeutic outcomes in a surgically induced rat OA model. An injectable extracellular matrix (ECM)-mimicking hydrogel was prepared as the carrier for cell delivery, providing a favorable microenvironment for ADSC spreading and proliferation. The ECM-mimicking hydrogel could reduce cell death during and post injection. Additionally, ADSCs were genetically modified to overexpress transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), one of the paracrine factors that exert an anti-inflammatory and pro-anabolic effect. The gene-engineered ADSCs overexpressing TGF-β1 (T-ADSCs) had an enhanced paracrine effect on OA-like chondrocytes, which effectively decreased the expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and increased the expression of collagen II and aggrecan. In a surgically induced rat OA model, intra-articular injection of the T-ADSC-loaded hydrogel markedly reduced cartilage degeneration, joint inflammation, and the loss of the subchondral bone. Takenmore »together, this study provides a potential biomaterial strategy for enhanced OA treatment by delivering the gene-engineered ADSCs within an ECM-mimicking hydrogel.« less
  4. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating lung disease that progressively and irreversibly alters the lung parenchyma, eventually leading to respiratory failure. The study of this disease has been historically challenging due to the myriad of complex processes that contribute to fibrogenesis and the inherent difficulty in accurately recreating the human pulmonary environment in vitro . Here, we describe a poly(ethylene glycol) PEG hydrogel-based three-dimensional model for the co-culture of primary murine pulmonary fibroblasts and alveolar epithelial cells that reproduces the micro-architecture, cell placement, and mechanical properties of healthy and fibrotic lung tissue. Co-cultured cells retained normal levels of viability up to at least three weeks and displayed differentiation patterns observed in vivo during IPF progression. Interrogation of protein and gene expression within this model showed that myofibroblast activation required both extracellular mechanical cues and the presence of alveolar epithelial cells. Differences in gene expression indicated that cellular co-culture induced TGF-β signaling and proliferative gene expression, while microenvironmental stiffness upregulated the expression of genes related to cell–ECM interactions. This biomaterial-based cell culture system serves as a significant step forward in the accurate recapitulation of human lung tissue in vitro and highlights the need to incorporate multiple factors that work togethermore »synergistically in vivo into models of lung biology of health and disease.« less
  5. Abstract

    This paper describes a microscale fibroplasia and contraction model that is based on fibrin-embedded lung fibroblasts and provides a convenient visual readout of fibrosis. Cell-laden fibrin microgel drops are formed by aqueous two-phase microprinting. The cells deposit extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules such as collagen while fibrin is gradually degraded. Ultimately, the cells contract the collagen-rich matrix to form a compact cell-ECM spheroid. The size of the spheroid provides the visual readout of the extent of fibroplasia. Stimulation of this wound-healing model with the profibrotic cytokine TGF-β1 leads to an excessive scar formation response that manifests as increased collagen production and larger cell-ECM spheroids. Addition of drugs also shifted the scarring profile: the FDA-approved fibrosis drugs (nintedanib and pirfenidone) and a PAI-1 inhibitor (TM5275) significantly reduced cell-ECM spheroid size. Not only is the assay useful for evaluation of antifibrotic drug effects, it is relatively sensitive; one of the few in vitro fibroplasia assays that can detect pirfenidone effects at submillimolar concentrations. Although this paper focuses on lung fibrosis, the approach opens opportunities for studying a broad range of fibrotic diseases and for evaluating antifibrotic therapeutics.