Despite the enormous progress in studying definitive endoderm (DE) differentiation from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), none of the reported protocols have produced a universal, cost-effective, and competent DE with the capability to further differentiate into endodermal derivatives. In this study, by using a 2-step differentiation strategy, we have treated hESCs for 1 day with "priming" small molecules (SM), [stauprimide, NSC-308848, rapamycin (Rapa), and/or CHIR] and for the next 3 days with "inducing" SM (LY294002, cymarin, IDE1, and/or IDE2) in conjunction with activin A. In the positive control group, we treated hESCs with Wnt3a (25 ng/mL) for 1 day and activin A (100 ng/mL; W/A100-A100) for the next 3 days. Gene expression analysis showed that treatment of hESCs with 100 nM Rapa and 50 ng/mL activin A (Rapa-A50) out of 25 combinations of factors gave rise to higher expressions of 2 DE-specific genes, SOX17 and FOXA2. Similar results were obtained after treating 2 other hESC lines with this regimen. To investigate the competency of Rapa-A50-induced DE for further differentiation into endodermal derivatives, these cells and W/A100-A100-induced DE cells (positive control) were further differentiated into pancreatic progenitors (PP), then into pancreatic endocrine (PE) cells using 5 previously described differentiation protocols. Gene analysis of differentiated cells showed that the established protocols were insufficient to enable universal differentiation into PE, whereas Rapa-A50-induced DE cells were more competent for PP differentiation in a protocol-dependent manner. Additionally, Rapa-A50-induced DE had the capability to differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs) as efficiently as W/A100-A100-induced DE. These data have indicated that hESCs primed with Rapa, and induced by a lower concentration of activin A, could lead to DE that had the capability to further differentiate into HLCs and PP cells, but not PE cells. Thus, current protocols for the differentiation of DE into PE still need additional study.
Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the capacity to regenerate renal tubule epithelia and repair renal function without fusing with resident tubular cells. The goal of the present project was to investigate the role of MSCs secreted cytokines on tubule cell viability and regeneration after a toxic insult, using a conditionally immortalized human proximal tubule epithelial cell (ciPTEC) line. Gentamicin was used to induce nephrotoxicity, and cell viability and migration were studied in absence and presence of human MSC-conditioned medium (hMSC-CM) i.e. medium containing soluble factors produced and secreted by MSCs. Exposure of ciPTEC to 0-3000 μg/ml gentamicin for 24 h caused a significant dose-dependent increase in cell death. We further demonstrated that the nephrotoxic effect of 2000 μg/ml gentamicin was recovered partially by exposing cells to hMSC-CM. Moreover, exposure of ciPTEC to gentamicin (1500-3000 μg/ml) for 7 days completely attenuated the migratory capacity of the cells. In addition, following scrape-wounding, cell migration of both untreated and gentamicin-exposed cells was increased in the presence of hMSC-CM, as compared to exposures to normal medium, indicating improved cell recovery. Our data suggest that cytokines secreted by MSCs stimulate renal tubule cell regeneration after nephrotoxicity.
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