Stem cell research & therapy

Mesenchymal stromal cells ameliorate oxidative stress-induced islet endothelium apoptosis and functional impairment via Wnt4-β-catenin signaling.

PMID 28807051


Islet dysfunction and destruction are the common cause for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The islets of Langerhans are highly vascularized miniorgans, and preserving the structural integrity and full function of the microvascular endothelium is vital for protecting the islets from the infiltration of immune cells and secondary inflammatory attack. Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-based therapies have been proven to promote angiogenesis of the islets; however, the underlying mechanism for the protective role of MSCs in the islet endothelium is still vague. In this study, we used MS-1, a murine islet microvascular endothelium cell line, and an MSC-MS1 transwell culturing system to investigate the protective mechanism of rat bone marrow-derived MSCs under oxidative stress in vitro. Cell apoptosis was detected by TUNEL staining, annexin V/PI flow cytometry analysis, and cleaved caspase 3 western blotting analysis. Endothelial cell activation was determined by expression of intercellular cell adhesion molecule (ICAM) and vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM), as well as eNOS phosphorylation/activation. The changes of VCAM-1, eNOS, and the β-catenin expression were also tested in the isolated islets of T2DM rats infused with MSCs. We observed that treating MS-1 cells with H2O2 triggered significant apoptosis, induction of VCAM expression, and reduction of eNOS phosphorylation. Importantly, coculturing MS-1 cells with MSCs prevented oxidative stress-induced apoptosis, eNOS inhibition, and VCAM elevation in MS-1 cells. Similar changes in VCAM-1 and eNOS phosphorylation could also be observed in the islets isolated from T2DM rats infused with MSCs. Moreover, MSCs cocultured with MS-1 in vitro or their administration in vivo could both result in an increase of β-catenin, which suggested activation of the β-catenin-dependent Wnt signaling pathway. In MS-1 cells, activation of the β-catenin-dependent Wnt signaling pathway partially mediated the protective effects of MSCs against H2O2-induced apoptosis and eNOS inhibition. Furthermore, MSCs produced a significant amount of Wnt4 and Wnt5a. Although both Wnt4 and Wnt5a participated in the interaction between MSCs and MS-1 cells, Wnt4 exhibited a protective role while Wnt5a seemed to show a destructive role in MS-1 cells. Our observations provide evidence that the orchestration of the MSC-secreted Wnts could promote the survival and improve the endothelial function of the injured islet endothelium via activating the β-catenin-dependent Wnt signaling in target endothelial cells. This finding might inspire further in-vivo studies.