[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mechanism for stem cell-mediated improvement following acute myocardial infarction has been actively debated. We support hypotheses that the stem cell effect is primarily paracrine factor-linked. We used a heparin-presenting injectable nanofibre network to bind and deliver paracrine factors derived from hypoxic conditioned stem cell media to mimic this stem cell paracrine effect. Our self-assembling peptide nanofibres presenting heparin were capable of binding paracrine factors from a medium phase. When these factor-loaded materials were injected into the heart following coronary artery ligation in a mouse ischaemia-reperfusion model of acute myocardial infarction, we found significant preservation of haemodynamic function. Through media manipulation, we were able to determine that crucial factors are primarily < 30 kDa and primarily heparin-binding. Using recombinant VEGF- and bFGF-loaded nanofibre networks, the effect observed with conditioned media was recapitulated. When evaluated in another disease model, a chronic rat ischaemic hind limb, our factor-loaded materials contributed to extensive limb revascularization. These experiments demonstrate the potency of the paracrine effect associated with stem cell therapies and the potential of a biomaterial to bind and deliver these factors, pointing to a potential therapy based on synthetic materials and recombinant factors as an acellular therapy.
Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 03/2010; 4(8):600-10. · 4.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigated the effects on cardiomyocyte differentiation of embryonic stem cells by the overexpression of the transcription factor, Pitx2c, and examined the effects of transplantation of these differentiated cells on cardiac function in a mouse model of myocardial infarction. Pitx2c overexpressing embryonic stem cells were characterized for cardiac differentiation by immunocytochemistry, RNA analysis, and electrophysiology. Differentiated cells were transplanted by directed injection into the infarcted murine myocardium and functional measurements of blood pressure, contractility, and relaxation were performed. Histochemistry and FISH analysis performed on these mice confirmed the engraftment and cardiac nature of the transplanted cells. Pitx2c overexpressing embryonic stem cells robustly differentiated into spontaneously contracting cells which acquired cardiac protein markers and exhibited action potentials resembling that of cardiomyocytes. These cells could also be synchronized to an external pacemaker. Significant improvements (P < 0.01) in blood pressure (56%), contractility (57%), and relaxation (59%) were observed in infarcted mice with transplants of these differentiated cells but not in mice which were transplanted with control cells. The Pitx2c overexpressing cells secrete paracrine factors which when adsorbed onto a heparinated gel and injected into the infarcted myocardium produce a comparable and significant (P < 0.01) functional recovery. Pitx2c overexpression is a valuable method for producing cardiomyocytes from embryonic stem cells, and transplantation of these cardiomyocytes into infracted myocardium restores cardiac function through multiple mechanisms.
International Heart Journal 11/2009; 50(6):783-99. · 1.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sympathetic nervous system development depends upon many factors that mediate neuron migration, differentiation and survival. Target tissue-derived nerve growth factor (NGF) signaling-induced gene expression is required for survival, differentiation and target tissue innervation of post-migratory sympathetic neurons. However, the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms mediated by NGF signaling are very poorly defined. Here, we identify Egr3, a member of the early growth response (Egr) family of transcriptional regulators, as having an important role in sympathetic nervous system development. Egr3 is regulated by NGF signaling and it is expressed in sympathetic neurons during development when they depend upon NGF for survival and target tissue innervation. Egr3-deficient mice have severe sympathetic target tissue innervation abnormalities and profound physiological dysautonomia. Unlike NGF, which is essential for sympathetic neuron survival and for axon branching within target tissues, Egr3 is required for normal terminal axon extension and branching, but not for neuron survival. The results indicate that Egr3 is a novel NGF signaling effector that regulates sympathetic neuron gene expression required for normal target tissue innervation and function. Egr3-deficient mice have a phenotype that is remarkably similar to humans with sympathetic nervous system disease, raising the possibility that it may have a role in some forms of human dysautonomia, most of which have no known cause.
Development 09/2008; 135(17):2949-57. · 6.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Controlling new blood vessel formation is of interest in regenerative medicine and cancer treatment. Heparin, a biopolymer that binds to angiogenic growth factors, was used to nucleate the self-assembly of nanostructures from designed peptide amphiphile molecules. This process yields rigid nanofibers that display heparin chains to orient proteins for cell signaling. In vivo, the nanostructures stimulated extensive new blood vessel formation using nanogram amounts of growth-factor proteins that by themselves did not induce any detectable angiogenesis.