Tissue engineering. Part A

Dynamic vibration cooperates with connective tissue growth factor to modulate stem cell behaviors.

PMID 24456068


Vocal fold disorders affect 3-9% of the U.S. population. Tissue engineering offers an alternative strategy for vocal fold repair. Successful engineering of vocal fold tissues requires a strategic combination of therapeutic cells, biomimetic scaffolds, and physiologically relevant mechanical and biochemical factors. Specifically, we aim to create a vocal fold-like microenvironment to coax stem cells to adopt the phenotype of vocal fold fibroblasts (VFFs). Herein, high frequency vibratory stimulations and soluble connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) were sequentially introduced to mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) cultured on a poly(ɛ-caprolactone) (PCL)-derived microfibrous scaffold for a total of 6 days. The initial 3-day vibratory culture resulted in an increased production of hyaluronic acids (HA), tenascin-C (TNC), decorin (DCN), and matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP1). The subsequent 3-day CTGF treatment further enhanced the cellular production of TNC and DCN, whereas CTGF treatment alone without the vibratory preconditioning significantly promoted the synthesis of collagen I (Col 1) and sulfated glycosaminoglycans (sGAGs). The highest level of MMP1, TNC, Col III, and DCN production was found for cells being exposed to the combined vibration and CTGF treatment. Noteworthy, the vibration and CTGF elicited a differential stimulatory effect on elastin (ELN), HA synthase 1 (HAS1), and fibroblast-specific protein-1 (FSP-1). The mitogenic activity of CTGF was only elicited in naïve cells without the vibratory preconditioning. The combined treatment had profound, but opposite effects on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways, Erk1/2 and p38, and the Erk1/2 pathway was critical for the observed mechano-biochemical responses. Collectively, vibratory stresses and CTGF signals cooperatively coaxed MSCs toward a VFF-like phenotype and accelerated the synthesis and remodeling of vocal fold matrices.