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Acta Biomater. 2019 Mar 1. pii: S1742-7061(19)30159-X. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2019.02.046. [Epub ahead of print]

Synergistic interplay between human MSCs and HUVECs in 3D spheroids laden in collagen/fibrin hydrogels for bone tissue engineering.

Author information

1
Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics Department, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA; The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.
2
The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.
3
Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics Department, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA; The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA; Biomedical Engineering Department, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA; Materials Research Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Electronic address: ito1@psu.edu.

Abstract

Stem cell encapsulation in hydrogels has been widely employed in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, organ-on-a-chip devices and gene delivery; however, fabrication of native-like bone tissue using such a strategy has been a challenge, particularly in vitro, due to the limited cell loading densities resulting in weaker cell-cell interactions and lesser extra-cellular matrix deposition. In particular, scalable bone tissue constructs require vascular network to provide enough oxygen and nutrient supplies to encapsulated cells. To enhance stem cell function and generate pre-vascularized network, we here employed collagen/fibrin hydrogel as an encapsulation matrix for the incorporation of human mesenchymal stem cell/human umbilical vein endothelial cell (MSC/HUVEC) spheroids, and investigated their cellular behavior (including cell viability, morphology, proliferation, and gene expression profile) and compared to that of cell suspension- or MSC spheroids-laden hydrogels. MSC/HUVEC spheroids encapsulated in collagen/fibrin hydrogel showed better cell spreading and proliferation, and up-regulated osteogenic differentiation, and demonstrated pre-vascular network formation. Overall, MSC/HUVEC spheroids-laden hydrogels provided a highly suitable 3D microenvironment for bone tissue formation, which can be utilized in various applications, such as but not limited to tissue engineering, disease modeling and drug screening. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Stem cell encapsulation in hydrogels has been widely used in various areas such as tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, organ-on-a-chip devices and gene delivery; however, fabrication of native-like bone tissue using such an approach has been a challenge, particularly in vitro, due to the limited cell loading densities resulting in weaker cell-cell interactions and lesser extra-cellular matrix deposition. Here in this work, we have encapsulated spheroids of human mesenchymal stems cells (MSCs) in collagen/fibrin hydrogel and evaluated their viability, proliferation, osteogenic differentiation, and bone formation potential in vitro with respect to cell suspension-laden hydrogel samples. We have further incorporated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) into MSC spheroids and demonstrated that the presence of HUVECs in 3D spheroid culture in collagen/fibrin gel induced the formation of pre-vascular network, improved cell viability and proliferation, enhanced the osteogenic differentiation of spheroids, and increased their bone mineral deposition. In sum, MSC/HUVEC spheroids laden hydrogels provided a highly suitable 3D microenvironment for bone tissue formation, which can be utilized in various applications, such as but not limited to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, disease modeling and drug screening.

KEYWORDS:

Bone tissue engineering; Cellular spheroids; Osteogenic differentiation; Vascularization

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