Stem cell research & therapy

Autophagy mediates the beneficial effect of hypoxic preconditioning on bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells for the therapy of myocardial infarction.

PMID 28420436


Stem cell therapy has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy for myocardial infarction (MI). However, the poor viability of transplanted stem cells hampers their therapeutic efficacy. Hypoxic preconditioning (HPC) can effectively promote the survival of stem cells. The aim of this study was to investigate whether HPC improved the functional survival of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) and increased their cardiac protective effect. BM-MSCs, isolated from Tg(Fluc-egfp) mice which constitutively express both firefly luciferase (Fluc) and enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP), were preconditioned with HPC (1% O2) for 12 h, 24 h, 36 h, and 48 h, respectively, followed by 24 h of hypoxia and serum deprivation (H/SD) injury. HPC dose-dependently increased the autophagy in BM-MSCs. However, the protective effects of HPC for 24 h are most pronounced. Moreover, hypoxic preconditioned BM-MSCs (HPCMSCs) and nonhypoxic preconditioned BM-MSCs (NPCMSCs) were transplanted into infarcted hearts. Longitudinal in vivo bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and immunofluorescent staining revealed that HPC enhanced the survival of engrafted BM-MSCs. Furthermore, HPCMSCs significantly reduced fibrosis, decreased apoptotic cardiomyocytes, and preserved heart function. However, the beneficial effect of HPC was abolished by autophagy inhibition with 3-methyladenine (3-MA) and Atg7siRNA. This study demonstrates that HPC may improve the functional survival and the therapeutic efficiencies of engrafted BM-MSCs, at least in part through autophagy regulation. Hypoxic preconditioning may serve as a promising strategy for optimizing cell-based cardiac regenerative therapy.