Comparative Analysis of Human-Derived Feeder Layers with 3T3 Fibroblasts for the Ex Vivo Expansion of Human Limbal and Oral Epithelium
Schepens Eye Research Institute, 20 Staniford Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.Stem cell reviews (Impact Factor: 2.77). 10/2011; 8(3):696-705. DOI: 10.1007/s12015-011-9319-6
Corneal transplantation with cultivated limbal or oral epithelium is a feasible treatment option for limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). Currently utilized co-culture of stem cells with murine 3T3 feeder layer renders the epithelial constructs as xenografts. To overcome the potential risks involved with xenotransplantation, we investigated the use of human-derived feeder layers for the ex vivo expansion of epithelial (stem) cells. Human limbal and oral epithelium was co-cultured with mouse 3T3 fibroblasts, human dermal fibroblasts (DF), human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), and with no feeder cells (NF). Cell morphology was monitored with phase-contrast microscopy, and stem cell characteristics were assessed by immunohistochemistry, real-time PCR for p63 and ABCG2, (stem cell markers), and by colony-forming efficiency (CFE) assay. Immunohistochemical analysis detected positive staining for CK3 (cornea specific marker) and Iβ1 and p63 (putative stem cell markers) in all culture conditions. The level of Iβ1 and p63 was significantly higher in both limbal and oral cells cultured on the 3T3 feeder, as compared to the MSC or NF group (p<0.01). This level was comparable to the cells cultured on DF. Expression of p63 and ABCG2 in limbal and oral epithelial cells in the 3T3 and DF groups was significantly higher than that in the MSC or NF group (p<0.01). No statistical difference was detected between 3T3 and DF groups. The CFE of both limbal and oral cells co-cultured on 3T3 fibroblasts was comparable to cells grown on DF, and was significantly higher than that of cells co-cultured with MSC or NF (p<0.01). Epithelial cells grown on a DF feeder layer maintained a stem cell-like phenotype, comparable to cells grown on a 3T3 feeder layer. In conclusion, DF provides a promising substitute for 3T3 feeder cells during cultivation of xenobiotic-free corneal equivalents.
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ABSTRACT: Previously, we successfully engineered a corneal stromal layer using corneal stromal cells. However, the limited source and proliferation potential of corneal stromal cells has driven us to search for alternative cell sources for corneal stroma engineering. Based on the idea that the tissue-specific environment may alter cell fate, we proposed that dermal fibroblasts could switch their phenotype to that of corneal stromal cells in the corneal environment. Thus, dermal fibroblasts were harvested from newborn rabbits, seeded on biodegradable polyglycolic acid (PGA) scaffolds, cultured in vitro for 1 week, and then implanted into adult rabbit corneas. After 8 weeks of implantation, nearly transparent corneal stroma was formed, with a histological structure similar to that of its native counterpart. The existence of cells that had been retrovirally labeled with green fluorescence protein (GFP) demonstrated the survival of implanted cells. In addition, all GFP-positive cells that survived expressed keratocan, a specific marker for corneal stromal cells, and formed fine collagen fibrils with a highly organized pattern similar to that of native stroma. However, neither dermal fibroblast-PGA construct pre-incubated in vitro for 3 weeks nor chondrocyte-PGA construct could form transparent stroma. The results demonstrated that neonatal dermal fibroblasts could switch their phenotype in the new tissue environment under restricted conditions. The functional restoration of corneal transparency using dermal fibroblasts suggests that they could be an alternative cell source for corneal stroma engineering.
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ABSTRACT: Good manufacturing practices guidelines require safer and standardized cell substrates especially for those cell therapy products to treat ocular diseases where fibroblasts are used as feeder layers. However, if these are unavailable for stem cells culturing, murine fibroblasts are regularly used, raising critical issues as accidentally transplanting xenogenous graft and adversely affecting stem cell clinical trials. Moreover, human fibroblasts play a significant role in testing novel ophthalmologic drugs. Accordingly, we developed a standardized laboratory and surgical approach to isolate normal and undamaged Tenon's fibroblasts to implement the setting up of banks for both stem cells-based ocular cell therapy and in vitro drug testing. A 2-3 cm(2) undamaged Tenon's biopsy was surgically obtained from 28 patients without mutually correlated ocular diseases. Nineteen dermal biopsies were used as control. Fibroblasts were isolated with or without collagenase, cultured in autologous, fetal bovine or AB serum, tested for viability by trypan blue, vimentin expression and standardized until passage 6. Successful Tenon's fibroblasts isolation was age dependent (P = 0.001) but not sex, pathology or surgery related. A significant rate of successful cultures were obtained when biopsies were not digested by collagenase (P = 0.013). Moreover, cultures in autologous or fetal bovine serum had comparable proliferative properties (P = 0.77; P = 0.82). Through our surgical and laboratory standardized procedure, we elucidated for the first time key points of this human primary culture system, the role of the autologous serum, comparing Tenon's and dermal fibroblasts. Our protocol may be clinically useful to reduce the risk above mentioned and may be potentially more effective for ophthalmological clinical purposes.
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ABSTRACT: Limbal stem cell deficiency is a painful and potentially blinding disease. Cultured limbal epithelial transplantation (CLET) is frequently performed for corneal surface reconstruction with variable clinical success. This work summarizes recent developments and trends that have the potential to increase safety and efficacy of CLET in the future. Apart from gradual transition to xenobiotic-free culture systems, novel biofunctional scaffolds presenting components of stem cell microenvironments aim at promoting long-term maintenance of stem cells in vitro and after transplantation. Hair follicles and other tissues may serve as autologous sources of adult stem cells in bilateral ocular surface disease. However, despite all progress made in the fields of tissue engineering and cell therapy, it is unlikely that CLET will yield fully satisfactory clinical results until the factors that govern limbal stem cell maintenance and differentiation are identified.
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