PloS one

Stromal cell-derived factor-1β mediates cell survival through enhancing autophagy in bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells.

PMID 23472159


Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (BMSCs) hold great potential for cell-based therapy, yet the therapeutic efficacy remains uncertain. Transplanted BMSCs often fail to engraft within the bone marrow (BM), in part due to the poor survival of donor cells in response to inflammatory reactions, hypoxia, oxidative stress, or nutrient starvation. Two basic cell processes, apoptosis and autophagy, could potentially be responsible for the impaired survival of transplanted BMSCs. However, the functional relationship between apoptosis and autophagy in BMSC homeostasis is complex and not well understood. The stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1)/CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) signaling axis appears to be critical in maintaining proliferation and survival of BM stem cell populations through improving cell proliferation and survival in response to stress; however, the exact mechanisms remain unclear. We recently described novel genetically engineered Tet-Off-SDF-1β BMSCs, which over-express SDF-1β under tight doxycycline-control, thus providing an ideal model system to investigate the isolated effects of SDF-1β. In this study we tested the hypothesis that SDF-1β can mediate cell survival of BMSCs in vitro through increasing autophagy. We found that SDF-1β had no effect on BMSC proliferation; however, SDF-1β significantly protected genetically engineered BMSCs from H2O2-induced cell death through increasing autophagy and decreasing caspase-3-dependent apoptosis. Taken together, we provide novel evidence that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis, specifically activated by the SDF-1β isoform, plays a critical role in regulating BMSC survival under oxidative stress through increasing autophagy.