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Concept: Extracellular matrix


Biological resurfacing of entire articular surfaces represents an important but challenging strategy for treatment of cartilage degeneration that occurs in osteoarthritis. Not only does this approach require anatomically sized and functional engineered cartilage, but the inflammatory environment within an arthritic joint may also inhibit chondrogenesis and induce degradation of native and engineered cartilage. The goal of this study was to use adult stem cells to engineer anatomically shaped, functional cartilage constructs capable of tunable and inducible expression of antiinflammatory molecules, specifically IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra). Large (22-mm-diameter) hemispherical scaffolds were fabricated from 3D woven poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) fibers into two different configurations and seeded with human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs). Doxycycline (dox)-inducible lentiviral vectors containing eGFP or IL-1Ra transgenes were immobilized to the PCL to transduce ASCs upon seeding, and constructs were cultured in chondrogenic conditions for 28 d. Constructs showed biomimetic cartilage properties and uniform tissue growth while maintaining their anatomic shape throughout culture. IL-1Ra-expressing constructs produced nearly 1 µg/mL of IL-1Ra upon controlled induction with dox. Treatment with IL-1 significantly increased matrix metalloprotease activity in the conditioned media of eGFP-expressing constructs but not in IL-1Ra-expressing constructs. Our findings show that advanced textile manufacturing combined with scaffold-mediated gene delivery can be used to tissue engineer large anatomically shaped cartilage constructs that possess controlled delivery of anticytokine therapy. Importantly, these cartilage constructs have the potential to provide mechanical functionality immediately upon implantation, as they will need to replace a majority, if not the entire joint surface to restore function.

Concepts: Biology, Extracellular matrix, Receptor, Cellular differentiation, Histology, Osteoarthritis, Engineering, Adult stem cell


Multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are found in various tissues and can proliferate extensively in vitro. MSCs have been used in preclinical animal studies and clinical trials in many fields. Adipose derived stem cells (ASCs) have several advantages compared to other MSCs for use in cell-based treatments because they are easy to isolate with relative abundance. However, quantitative approaches for wound repair using ASCs have been limited because of lack of animal models which allow for quantification. Here, we addressed the effect of topically delivered ASCs in wound repair by quantitative analysis using the rabbit ear model. We characterized rabbit ASCs, and analyzed their multipotency in comparison to bone marrow derived-MSCs (BM-MSCs) and dermal fibroblasts (DFs) in vitro. Topically delivered ASCs increased granulation tissue formation in wounds when compared to saline controls, whereas BM-MSCs or DFs did not. These studies suggest that ASCs and BM-MSCs are not identical, though they have similar surface markers. We found that topically delivered ASCs are engrafted and proliferate in the wounds. We showed that transplanted ASCs exhibited activated fibroblast phenotype, increased endothelial cell recruitment, and enhanced macrophage recruitment in vivo.

Concepts: Wound healing, Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Fibroblast, Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bone marrow, Wound


Infection with Wuchereria bancrofti can cause severe disease characterized by subcutaneous fibrosis and extracellular matrix remodeling. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of enzymes governing extracellular remodeling by regulating cellular homeostasis, inflammation, and tissue reorganization, while tissue-inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are endogenous regulators of MMPs. Homeostatic as well as inflammation-induced balance between MMPs and TIMPs is considered critical in mediating tissue pathology.

Concepts: Inflammation, Extracellular matrix, Infection, Matrix metalloproteinase, Diethylcarbamazine, Filariasis, Wuchereria bancrofti, Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases


Fibroblasts residing in connective tissues throughout the body are responsible for extracellular matrix (ECM) homeostasis and repair. In response to tissue damage, they activate to become myofibroblasts, which have organized contractile cytoskeletons and produce a myriad of proteins for ECM remodeling. However, persistence of myofibroblasts can lead to fibrosis with excessive collagen deposition and tissue stiffening. Thus, understanding which signals regulate de-activation of myofibroblasts during normal tissue repair is critical. Substrate modulus has recently been shown to regulate fibrogenic properties, proliferation and apoptosis of fibroblasts isolated from different organs. However, few studies track the cellular responses of fibroblasts to dynamic changes in the microenvironmental modulus. Here, we utilized a light-responsive hydrogel system to probe the fate of valvular myofibroblasts when the Young’s modulus of the substrate was reduced from ~32 kPa, mimicking pre-calcified diseased tissue, to ~7 kPa, mimicking healthy cardiac valve fibrosa. After softening the substrata, valvular myofibroblasts de-activated with decreases in α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) stress fibers and proliferation, indicating a dormant fibroblast state. Gene signatures of myofibroblasts (including α-SMA and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF)) were significantly down-regulated to fibroblast levels within 6 hours of in situ substrate elasticity reduction while a general fibroblast gene vimentin was not changed. Additionally, the de-activated fibroblasts were in a reversible state and could be re-activated to enter cell cycle by growth stimulation and to express fibrogenic genes, such as CTGF, collagen 1A1 and fibronectin 1, in response to TGF-β1. Our data suggest that lowering substrate modulus can serve as a cue to down-regulate the valvular myofibroblast phenotype resulting in a predominantly quiescent fibroblast population. These results provide insight in designing hydrogel substrates with physiologically relevant stiffness to dynamically redirect cell fate in vitro.

Concepts: Bone, Wound healing, Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Muscle, Tissues, Connective tissue, Young's modulus


Recent studies have described that the Notch signaling pathway is activated in a wide range of renal diseases. Angiotensin II (AngII) plays a key role in the progression of kidney diseases. AngII contributes to renal fibrosis by upregulation of profibrotic factors, induction of epithelial mesenchymal transition and accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins. In cultured human tubular epithelial cells the Notch activation by transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) has been involved in epithelial mesenchymal transition. AngII mimics many profibrotic actions of TGF-β1. For these reasons, our aim was to investigate whether AngII could regulate the Notch/Jagged system in the kidney, and its potential role in AngII-induced responses. In cultured human tubular epithelial cells, TGF-β1, but not AngII, increased the Notch pathway-related gene expression, Jagged-1 synthesis, and caused nuclear translocation of the activated Notch. In podocytes and renal fibroblasts, AngII did not modulate the Notch pathway. In tubular epithelial cells, pharmacological Notch inhibition did not modify AngII-induced changes in epithelial mesenchymal markers, profibrotic factors and extracellular matrix proteins. Systemic infusion of AngII into rats for 2 weeks caused tubulointerstitial fibrosis, but did not upregulate renal expression of activated Notch-1 or Jagged-1, as observed in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Moreover, the Notch/Jagged system was not modulated by AngII type I receptor blockade in the model of unilateral ureteral obstruction in mice. These data clearly indicate that AngII does not regulate the Notch/Jagged signaling system in the kidney, in vivo and in vitro. Our findings showing that the Notch pathway is not involved in AngII-induced fibrosis could provide important information to understand the complex role of Notch system in the regulation of renal regeneration vs damage progression.

Concepts: Chronic kidney disease, Kidney, Extracellular matrix, Blood pressure, Ureter, Renin-angiotensin system, Renal pelvis, Endocrine system


Bombyx mori cypovirus is a major pathogen which causes significant losses in silkworm cocoon harvests because the virus particles are embedded in micrometer-sized protein crystals called polyhedra and can remain infectious in harsh environmental conditions for years. But the remarkable stability of polyhedra can be applied on slow-release carriers of cytokines for tissue engineering. Here we show the complete healing in critical-sized bone defects by bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) encapsulated polyhedra. Although absorbable collagen sponge (ACS) safely and effectively delivers recombinant human BMP-2 (rhBMP-2) into healing tissue, the current therapeutic regimens release rhBMP-2 at an initially high rate after which the rate declines rapidly. ACS impregnated with BMP-2 polyhedra had enough osteogenic activity to promote complete healing in critical-sized bone defects, but ACS with a high dose of rhBMP-2 showed incomplete bone healing, indicating that polyhedral microcrystals containing BMP-2 promise to advance the state of the art of bone healing.

Concepts: Bone, Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Healing, Bombyx mori, Bombycidae, Bombyx, Bombyx mandarina


Extracellular matrix deposition and tissue scarring characterize the process of fibrosis. Transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) and Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of fibrosis in various tissues by inducing mesenchymal cell proliferation and extracellular matrix deposition. We identified Syndecan-2 (SDC2) as a gene induced by TGFβ in an IGFBP-3-dependent manner. TGFβ induction of SDC2 mRNA and protein required IGFBP-3. IGFBP-3 independently induced production of SDC2 in primary fibroblasts. Using an ex-vivo model of human skin in organ culture expressing IGFBP-3, we demonstrate that IGFBP-3 induces SDC2 ex vivo in human tissue. We also identified Mitogen-activated protein kinase-interacting kinase (Mknk2) as a gene induced by IGFBP-3. IGFBP-3 triggered Mknk2 phosphorylation resulting in its activation. Mknk2 independently induced SDC2 in human skin. Since IGFBP-3 is over-expressed in fibrotic tissues, we examined SDC2 levels in skin and lung tissues of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and lung tissues of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). SDC2 levels were increased in fibrotic dermal and lung tissues of patients with SSc and in lung tissues of patients with IPF. This is the first report describing elevated levels of SDC2 in fibrosis. Increased SDC2 expression is due, at least in part, to the activity of two pro-fibrotic factors, TGFβ and IGFBP-3.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Extracellular matrix, Fibrosis, Skin, Tissue, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, Pulmonary fibrosis, Scleroderma


The use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has been postulated to be the most effective strategy for developing patient-specific respiratory epithelial cells, which may be valuable for lung-related cell therapy and lung tissue engineering. We generated a relatively homogeneous population of alveolar epithelial type II (AETII) and type I (AETI) cells from human iPSCs that had phenotypic properties similar to those of mature human AETII and AETI cells. We used these cells to explore whether lung tissue can be regenerated in vitro. Consistent with an AETII phenotype, we found that up to 97% of cells were positive for surfactant protein C, 95% for mucin-1, 93% for surfactant protein B, and 89% for the epithelial marker CD54. Additionally, exposing induced AETII to a Wnt/β-catenin inhibitor (IWR-1) changed the iPSC-AETII-like phenotype to a predominantly AETI-like phenotype. We found that of induced AET1 cells, more than 90% were positive for type I markers, T1α, and caveolin-1. Acellular lung matrices were prepared from whole rat or human adult lungs treated with decellularization reagents, followed by seeding these matrices with alveolar cells derived from human iPSCs. Under appropriate culture conditions, these progenitor cells adhered to and proliferated within the 3D lung tissue scaffold and displayed markers of differentiated pulmonary epithelium.

Concepts: Gene, Lung, Extracellular matrix, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Epithelium, Progenitor cell


SOFT TISSUE TUMORS ARE CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO THEIR HISTOLOGICAL RESEMBLANCE TO NORMAL ADULT TISSUES AND CAN BE GROUPED INTO THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES BASED ON METASTATIC POTENTIAL: benign, intermediate (locally aggressive), intermediate (rarely metastasizing) and malignant. Over the past two decades, considerable progress has been made in our understanding of the genetic background of soft tissue tumors. Traditional laboratory techniques, such as cytogenetic analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), can be used for diagnostic purposes in soft tissue pathology practice. Moreover, cytogenetic and molecular studies are often necessary for prognostics and follow-up of soft tissue sarcoma patients. This review provides updated information on the applicability of laboratory genetic testing in the diagnosis of benign and intermediate soft tissue tumors. These tumors include nodular fasciitis, chondroid lipoma, collagenous fibroma (desmoplastic fibroblastoma), giant cell tumor of tendon sheath (GCTTS)/pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS), angiofibroma of soft tissue, myxoinflammatory fibroblastic sarcoma (MIFS) and ossifying fibromyxoid tumor (OFMT).

Concepts: Genetics, Cancer, Oncology, Extracellular matrix, Soft tissue sarcoma, Anatomical pathology, Fluorescent in situ hybridization, Cytogenetics


OBJECTIVE: The 1-34 amino acid segment of the parathyroid hormone (PTH [1-34]) mediates anabolic effects in chondrocytes and osteocytes. The aim of this study was to investigate whether systemic application of PTH [1-34] improves the repair of non-osteoarthritic, focal osteochondral defects in vivo. DESIGN: Standardized cylindrical osteochondral defects were bilaterally created in the femoral trochlea of rabbits (n = 8). Daily subcutaneous injections of 10 μg PTH [1-34]/kg were given to the treatment group (n = 4) for 6 weeks, controls (n = 4) received saline. Articular cartilage repair was evaluated by macroscopic, biochemical, histological and immunohistochemical analyses. Reconstitution of the subchondral bone was assessed by micro-computed tomography. Effects of PTH [1-34] on synovial membrane, apoptosis, and expression of the PTH receptor (PTH1R) were determined. RESULTS: Systemic PTH [1-34] increased PTH1R expression on both, chondrocytes and osteocytes within the repair tissue. PTH [1-34] ameliorated the macro- and microscopic aspect of the cartilaginous repair tissue. It also enhanced the thickness of the subchondral bone plate and the microarchitecture of the subarticular spongiosa within the defects. No significant correlations were established between these coexistent processes. Apoptotic levels, synovial membrane, biochemical composition of the repair tissue, and type-I/II collagen immunoreactivity remained unaffected. CONCLUSIONS: PTH [1-34] emerges as a promising agent in the treatment of focal osteochondral defects as its systemic administration simultaneously stimulates articular cartilage and subchondral bone repair. Importantly, both time-dependent mechanisms of repair did not correlate significantly at this early time point and need to be followed over prolonged observation periods.

Concepts: Bone, Calcitonin, Collagen, Extracellular matrix, Parathyroid hormone, Cartilage, Autologous chondrocyte implantation, Articular cartilage repair