The synthetic artificial stem cell (SASC): Shifting the paradigm of cell therapy in regenerative engineering

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Jan 11;119(2):e2116865118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2116865118.


Stem cells are of great interest in tissue regeneration due to their ability to modulate the local microenvironment by secreting bioactive factors (collectively, secretome). However, secretome delivery through conditioned media still requires time-consuming cell isolation and maintenance and also may contain factors antagonistic to targeted tissue regeneration. We have therefore engineered a synthetic artificial stem cell (SASC) system which mimics the paracrine effect of the stem cell secretome and provides tailorability of the composition for targeted tissue regeneration. We report the first of many applications of the SASC system we have formulated to treat osteoarthritis (OA). Choosing growth factors important to chondrogenesis and encapsulating respective recombinant proteins in poly (lactic-coglycolic acid) 85:15 (PLGA) we fabricated the SASC system. We compared the antiinflammatory and chondroprotective effects of SASC to that of adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) using in vitro interleukin 1B-induced and in vivo collagenase-induced osteoarthritis rodent models. We have designed SASC as an injectable therapy with controlled release of the formulated secretome. In vitro, SASC showed significant antiinflammatory and chondroprotective effects as seen by the up-regulation of SOX9 and reduction of nitric oxide, ADAMTS5, and PRG4 genes compared to ADSCs. In vivo, treatment with SASC and ADSCs significantly attenuated cartilage degeneration and improved the biomechanical properties of the articular cartilage in comparison to OA control. This SASC system demonstrates the feasibility of developing a completely synthetic, tailorable stem cell secretome which reinforces the possibility of developing a new therapeutic strategy that provides better control over targeted tissue engineering applications.

PMID:34987101 | DOI:10.1073/pnas.2116865118


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