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Stem Cells Transl Med. 2016 Sep;5(9):1229-37. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2015-0412. Epub 2016 Jun 30.

Mesenchymal Stem Cell Spheroids Retain Osteogenic Phenotype Through α2β1 Signaling.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Davis, Davis, California, USA.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Davis, Davis, California, USA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California, USA


: The induction of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) toward the osteoblastic lineage using osteogenic supplements prior to implantation is one approach under examination to enhance their bone-forming potential. MSCs rapidly lose their induced phenotype upon removal of the soluble stimuli; however, their bone-forming potential can be sustained when provided with continued instruction via extracellular matrix (ECM) cues. In comparison with dissociated cells, MSC spheroids exhibit improved survival and secretion of trophic factors while maintaining their osteogenic potential. We hypothesized that entrapment of MSC spheroids formed from osteogenically induced cells would exhibit better preservation of their bone-forming potential than would dissociated cells from monolayer culture. Spheroids exhibited comparable osteogenic potential and increased proangiogenic potential with or without osteogenic preconditioning versus monolayer-cultured MSCs. Spheroids were then entrapped in collagen hydrogels, and the osteogenic stimulus was removed. In comparison with entrapped dissociated MSCs, spheroids exhibited significantly increased markers of osteogenic differentiation. The capacity of MSC spheroids to retain their osteogenic phenotype upon withdrawal of inductive cues was mediated by α2β1 integrin binding to cell-secreted ECM. These results demonstrate the capacity of spheroidal culture to sustain the mineral-producing phenotype of MSCs, thus enhancing their contribution toward bone formation and repair.


Despite the promise of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for cell-based therapies for tissue repair and regeneration, there is little evidence that transplanted MSCs directly contribute to new bone formation, suggesting that induced cells rapidly lose their osteogenic phenotype or undergo apoptosis. In comparison with dissociated cells, MSC spheroids exhibit increased trophic factor secretion and improved cell survival. The loss of phenotype represents a significant clinical challenge for cell therapies, yet there is no evidence for whether MSC spheroids retain their osteogenic phenotype upon entrapment in a clinically relevant biomaterial. These findings demonstrate that MSC spheroids retain their osteogenic phenotype better than do dissociated MSCs, and this is due to integrin engagement with the cell-secreted extracellular matrix. These data provide evidence for a novel approach for potentiating the use of MSCs in bone repair.


Bone; Collagen; Extracellular matrix; Osteogenesis; Spheroid

[Available on 2017-03-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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