Cell and tissue research

Differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells in heparin-containing hydrogels via coculture with osteoblasts.

PMID 22083260


The therapeutic potency of delivered mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in tissue engineering applications may be improved by priming cells toward a differentiated state via coculture with native, differentiated cells prior to implantation; however, there is a lack of understanding in what may be the most efficacious method. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of negatively-charged heparin in priming hydrogel-encapsulated MSCs toward the osteoblastic lineage during coculture with a monolayer of osteoblasts in the absence of dexamethasone. MSCs encapsulated with higher amounts of heparin and cocultured with osteoblasts exhibited an over 36-fold increase in alkaline phosphatase activity and 13-fold increase in calcium accumulation by day 21, compared to MSCs cocultured with MSCs at the same heparin content. Moreover, hydrogels with higher amounts of heparin and cocultured with osteoblasts exhibited enhanced mineralization on the edges, suggesting that heparin may be important in sequestering osteoblast-secreted soluble factors, particularly on the surfaces of hydrogels. The ability of heparin to selectively interact with soluble positively-charged proteins from the surroundings was confirmed through protein labeling and microscopy. These results suggest that heparin-containing hydrogels as part of a coculture system can be utilized as a versatile platform to study and enhance priming of MSCs toward various cell types for a wide variety of regenerative medicine-based therapies.

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Methacrylamide, 98%