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Stem Cells Dev. 2007 Jun;16(3):489-502.

Fibronectin, vitronectin, and collagen I induce chemotaxis and haptotaxis of human and rabbit mesenchymal stem cells in a standardized transmembrane assay.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) is a critical element in tissue repair and regeneration. Its ability to differentiate into multiple connective tissue cell types and to self-renew has made it a prime candidate in regenerative medicine strategies. Currently, the environmental cues responsible for in situ recruitment and control of MSC distribution at repair sites are not entirely revealed and in particular the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins as motogenic factors has not been studied. Here we have used a standardized transmembrane chemotaxis assay to assess the chemotactic and haptotactic potential of fibronectin, vitronectin, and collagen type 1 on MSCs from both rabbit and human origin. The use of both cell types was based in part on the widespread use of rabbit models for musculoskeletal-related tissue engineering and repair models and their unknown correspondence to human in terms of MSC migration. The optimized assay yielded a greatly increased chemotactic response toward known factors such as platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF)-BB compared to previous studies. Our primary finding was that all three ECM proteins tested (fibronectin, vitronectin, and collagen I) induced significant motogenic activity, in both soluble and insoluble forms, for both rabbit and human MSCs. These results suggest that ECM proteins could play roles as significant as cytokines in the recruitment of pluripotential repair cells wound and tissue repair sites. Furthermore, designed ECM coatings of scaffolds or implants could provide a new tool to control both cell influx and outflux from the scaffold post-implantation. Finally, the similarity of motogenic behavior of both rabbit and human cells suggests the rabbit is a reliable model for assessing MSC recruitment in repair and regeneration strategies.

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