Journal of cellular and molecular medicine

Gene expression modulation in TGF-β3-mediated rabbit bone marrow stem cells using electrospun scaffolds of various stiffness.

PMID 25752910


Tissue engineering has recently evolved into a promising approach for annulus fibrosus (AF) regeneration. However, selection of an ideal cell source, which can be readily differentiated into AF cells of various regions, remains challenging because of the heterogeneity of AF tissue. In this study, we set out to explore the feasibility of using transforming growth factor-β3-mediated bone marrow stem cells (tBMSCs) for AF tissue engineering. Since the differentiation of stem cells significantly relies on the stiffness of substrate, we fabricated nanofibrous scaffolds from a series of biodegradable poly(ether carbonate urethane)-urea (PECUU) materials whose elastic modulus approximated that of native AF tissue. We cultured tBMSCs on PECUU scaffolds and compared their gene expression profile to AF-derived stem cells (AFSCs), the newly identified AF tissue-specific stem cells. As predicted, the expression of collagen-I in both tBMSCs and AFSCs increased with scaffold stiffness, whereas the expression of collagen-II and aggrecan genes showed an opposite trend. Interestingly, the expression of collagen-I, collagen-II and aggrecan genes in tBMSCs on PECUU scaffolds were consistently higher than those in AFSCs regardless of scaffold stiffness. In addition, the cell traction forces (CTFs) of both tBMSCs and AFSCs gradually decreased with scaffold stiffness, which is similar to the CTF change of cells from inner to outer regions of native AF tissue. Together, findings from this study indicate that tBMSCs had strong tendency to differentiate into various types of AF cells and presented gene expression profiles similar to AFSCs, thereby establishing a rationale for the use of tBMSCs in AF tissue engineering.