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Tissue Regeneration

March 2006

Embryonic and extraembryonic stem cell lines derived from single mouse blastomeres.

The most basic objection to human embryonic stem (ES) cell research is rooted in the fact that ES cell derivation deprives embryos of any further potential to develop into a complete human being. ES cell lines are conventionally isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts and, in a few instances, from cleavage stage embryos. So far, there have been no reports in the literature of stem cell lines derived using an approach that does not require embryo destruction. Here we report an alternative method of establishing ES cell lines-using a technique of single-cell embryo biopsy similar to that used in preimplantation genetic diagnosis of genetic defects-that does not interfere with the developmental potential of embryos. Five putative ES and seven trophoblast stem (TS) cell lines were produced from single blastomeres, which maintained normal karyotype and markers of pluripotency or TS cells for up to more than 50 passages. The ES cells differentiated into derivatives of all three germ layers in vitro and in teratomas, and showed germ line transmission. Single-blastomerebiopsied embryos developed to term without a reduction in their developmental capacity. The ability to generate human ES cells without the destruction of ex utero embryos would reduce or eliminate the ethical concerns of many. Nature. 2005 Oct 16 Human embryonic stem cellderived oligodendrocyte progenitor cell transplants remyelinate and restore locomotion after spinal cord injury. Demyelination contributes to loss of function after spinal cord injury, and thus a potential therapeutic strategy involves replacing myelin-forming cells. Here, we show that transplantation of human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) into adult rat spinal cord injuries enhances remyelination and promotes improvement of motor function. OPCs were injected 7 d or 10 months after injury. In both cases, transplanted cells survived, redistributed over short distances, and differentiated into oligodendrocytes. Animals that received OPCs 7 d after injury exhibited enhanced remyelination and substantially improved locomotor ability. In contrast, when OPCs were transplanted 10 months after injury, there was no enhanced remyelination or locomotor recovery. These studies document the feasibility of predifferentiating hESCs into functional OPCs and demonstrate their therapeutic potential at early time points after spinal cord injury.

J Neurosci. 2005 May 11;25(19):4694-705

Altered CNS response to injury in the MRL/MpJ mouse.

The MRL/MpJ mouse has a greatly enhanced healing response and an absence of scarring compared with other mouse strains. Following lesions to the CNS mammals show a scarring response known as reactive gliosis, and this CNS scar tissue blocks regeneration of cut axons. We have therefore compared reactive gliosis in the MRL/MpJ mouse and the Swiss Webster mouse, which exhibits normal scarring in the periphery. The lesion model was a stab lesion to the cortex, in which reactive gliosis has previously been quantified. Axon regeneration was examined following a cut lesion to the dopaminergic projection from the substantia nigra to the striatum used in previous regeneration experiments. In the MRL/MpJ following the lesion compared with Swiss Webster mice there was greater cell loss around the lesion followed by greater and more widespread and more prolonged cellular proliferation. Early after the lesion there was a greater loss of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive astrocytes around the injury site in the MRL/MpJ, and an enhancement and prolongation of the microglial inflammatory response. This was accompanied by greater and more widespread blood-brain barrier leakage following injury. RNA levels for the matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 as well as for the thrombin receptors PAR-1 and PAR-4 were also greater at the MRL/MpJ injury site. All of these differences were transient and by 14 days post-injury there were no differences observed between MRL/MpJ and control mice. No axonal regeneration was observed following axotomy to the nigrostriatal pathway of the MRL/MpJ or the Swiss Webster mice at any time point.

Neuroscience. 2004;127(4):821-32

Heart valve tissue engineering.

Tissue-engineered heart valves have been proposed by physicians and scientists alike to be the ultimate solution for treating valvular heart disease. Rather than replacing a diseased or defective native valve with a mechanical or animal tissue-derived artificial valve, a tissue-engineered valve would be a living organ, able to respond to growth and physiological forces in the same way that the native aortic valve does. Two main approaches have been attempted over the past 10 to 15 years: regeneration and repopulation. Regeneration involves the implantation of a resorbable matrix that is expected to remodel in vivo and yield a functional valve composed of the cells and connective tissue proteins of the patient. Repopulation involves implanting a whole porcine aortic valve that has been previously cleaned of all pig cells, leaving an intact, mechanically sound connective tissue matrix. The cells of the patients are expected to repopulate and revitalize the acellular matrix, creating living tissue that already has the complex microstructure necessary for proper function and durability. Regrettably, neither of the 2 approaches has fared well in animal experiments, and the only clinical experience with tissue-engineered valves resulted in a number of early failures and patient death. This article reviews the technological details of the 2 main approaches, their rationale, their strengths and weaknesses, and the likely mechanisms for their failure. Alternative approaches to valvular tissue engineering, as well as the role of industry in shaping this field in the future, are also reviewed.

Circ Res. 2005 Oct 14;97(8):743-55

The MRL mouse heart healing response shows donor dominance in allogeneic fetal liver chimeric mice.

We previously demonstrated that after a severe cryoinjury to the right ventricle of the heart, adult MRL mice display structural and functional recovery with myocardial tissue replacement resembling that seen in amphibians. The control non-regenerating adult C57BL/6 (B6) mouse shows a predominant scar response. In the present study, radiation chimeras reconstituted with fetal liver cells from either healer MRL or nonhealer B6 mice were generated to test for a transfer of phenotype. Allogeneic MRL fetal liver cells were injected into x-irradiated (9 Gy) B6 mice and B6 fetal liver cells were injected into x-irradiated MRL mice. In these allogeneic chimeras, the healing response to cardiac cryoinjury was predominantly of the donor phenotype. Thus, MRL fetal liver cells transferred the healing phenotype to the B6 nonhealer with the appearance of Y-chromosome positive, donor-derived cardiomyocytes in the injury site and MRL-like healing with little scar. Similarly, B6 fetal liver cells transferred the nonhealing phenotype to the MRL with little cardiomyocyte growth and an acellular B6-like scar. These results are in contrast to the ear hole closure response which was of the recipient phenotype. We conclude that, in the case of the heart, fetal liver-derived stem cells regulate regenerative healing.

Cloning Stem Cells. 2004;6(4):352-63

The scarless heart and the MRL mouse.

The ability to regenerate tissues and limbs in its most robust form is seen in many non-mammalian species. The serendipitous discovery that the MRL mouse has a profound capacity for regeneration in some ways rivalling the classic newt and axolotl species raises the possibility that humans, too, may have an innate regenerative ability. The adult MRL mouse regrows cartilage, skin, hair follicles and myocardium with near perfect fidelity and without scarring. This is seen in the ability to close through-and-through ear holes, which are generally used for lifelong identification of mice, and the anatomic and functional recovery of myocardium after a severe cryo-injury. We present histological, biochemical and genetic dataindicating that the enhanced breakdown of scar-like tissue may be an underlying factor in the MRL regenerative response. Studies as to the source of the cells in the regenerating MRL tissue are discussed. Such studies appear to support multiple mechanisms for cell replacement.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2004 May 29;359(1445):785-93

A new murine model for mammalian wound repair and regeneration.

Regeneration is generally considered to be a phenomenon restricted to amphibians in which amputated limbs reform and regrow. We have recently noted a strain of mouse, the MRL, which displays a remarkable capacity for cartilagenous wound closure and provides an example of a phenomenon previously considered to be a form of regeneration. Specifically, through-and-through ear punches rapidly attain full closure with normal tissue architecture reminiscent of regeneration seen in amphibians as opposed to scarring, as usually seen in mammals. Histologically, we have demonstrated normal cell growth and microanatomy, including angiogenesis and chondrogenesis, as opposed to control C57BL/6 mice which have ear holes that contract minimally but do not close. Finally, this phenomenon is a genetically definable quantitative trait.

Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1998 Jul;88(1):35-45

Angiogenesis in ischaemic myocardium by intramyocardial autologous bone marrow mononuclear cell implantation.

Results of experimental studies have shown that intramyocardial implantation of bone marrow cells induces neovascularisation and improves heart function after myocardial infarction. Our aim was to test this notion in people. We implanted autologous mononuclear bone marrow cells into the ischaemic myocardium of eight patients with severe ischaemic heart disease as guided by electromechanical mapping with a percutaneous catheter procedure. After 3 months of follow-up, there was improvement in symptoms, myocardial perfusion, and function at the ischaemic region on MRI. Future randomised, controlled studies are required to validate this initial encouraging result.

Lancet. 2003 Jan 4;361(9351):47-9

Intracoronary autologous bone-marrow cell transfer after myocardial infarction: the BOOST randomized controlled clinical trial.

BACKGROUND: Emerging evidence suggests that stem cells and progenitor cells derived from bone marrow can be used to improve cardiac function in patients after acute myocardial infarction. In this randomised trial, we aimed to assess whether intracoronary transfer of autologous bone-marrow cells could improve global leftventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) at 6 months’ follow-up.

METHODS: After successful percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, 60 patients were randomly assigned to either a control group (n=30) that received optimum postinfarction medical treatment, or a bone-marrow-cell group (n=30) that received optimum medical treatment and intracoronary transfer of autologous bone-marrow cells 4.8 days (SD 1.3) after PCI. Primary endpoint was global leftventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) change from baseline to 6 months’ follow-up, as determined by cardiac MRI. Image analyses were done by two investigators blinded for treatment assignment. Analysis was per protocol.

FINDINGS: Global LVEF at baseline (determined 3.5 days [SD 1.5] after PCI) was 51.3 (9.3%) in controls and 50.0 (10.0%) in the bone-marrow cell group (p=0.59). After 6 months, mean global LVEF had increased by 0.7 percentage points in the control group and 6.7 percentage points in the bone-marrow-cell group (p=0.0026). Transfer of bone-marrow cells enhanced left-ventricular systolic function primarily in myocardial segments adjacent to the infarcted area. Cell transfer did not increase the risk of adverse clinical events, in-stent restenosis, or proarrhythmic effects.

INTERPRETATION: Intracoronary transfer of autologous bone-marrow-cells promotes improvement of left-ventricular systolic function in patients after acute myocardial infarction.

Lancet. 2004 Jul 10-16;364(9429):141-8