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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43523. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043523. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

Human mesenchymal stem cell expression program upon extended ex-vivo cultivation, as revealed by 2-DE-based quantitative proteomics.

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Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (IBB), Centre for Biological and Chemical Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisboa, Portugal.


Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) have been on the focus of intense clinical-oriented research due to their multilineage differentiation potential and immunomodulatory properties. However, to reach the clinically meaningful cell numbers for cellular therapy and tissue engineering applications, MSC ex-vivo expansion is mandatory but sequential cell passaging results in loss of proliferative, clonogenic and differentiation potential. To get clues into the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular senescence resulting from extended ex-vivo cultivation of bone marrow (BM) MSC, we explored a two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) based quantitative proteomics to compare the expression programs of Passage 3 cells (P3), commonly used in clinical studies with expanded MSC, and Passage 7 (P7) cells, which already demonstrated significant signs of culture-induced senescence. Proteins of the functional categories "Structural components and cellular cytoskeleton" and "Folding and stress response proteins" are less abundant in P7 cells, compared to P3, while proteins involved in "Energy metabolism", "Cell cycle regulation and aging" and "Apoptosis" are more abundant. The large number of multiple size and charge isoforms with an altered content that were identified in this study in P7 versus P3, namely the cytoskeleton components β-actin (7 forms) and vimentin (24 forms), also emphasizes the importance of post-transcriptional modification upon long-term cultivation. The differential protein expression registered suggests that cellular senescence occurring during ex-vivo expansion of BM MSC is associated with the impairment of cytoskeleton remodeling and/or organization and the repair of damaged proteins resulting from cell exposure to culture stress. The genome-wide expression approach used in this study has proven useful for getting mechanistic insights into the observed decrease on the proliferative and clonogenic potential of P7 versus P3 cells and paves the way to set up a proteome profiling strategy for quality control to assure safe and clinically effective expanded MSC.

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