Smooth Muscle Cells Differentiated From Reprogrammed Embryonic Lung Fibroblasts Through DKK3 Signaling Are Potent for Tissue Engineering of Vascular GraftsNovelty and Significance
Rationale: Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are a key component of tissue-engineered vessels. However, the sources by which they can be isolated are limited.
Objective: We hypothesized that a large number of SMCs could be obtained by direct reprogramming of fibroblasts, that is, direct differentiation of specific cell lineages before the cells reaching the pluripotent state.
Methods and Results: We designed a combined protocol of reprogramming and differentiation of human neonatal lung fibroblasts. Four reprogramming factors (OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and cMYC) were overexpressed in fibroblasts under reprogramming conditions for 4 days with cells defined as partially-induced pluripotent stem (PiPS) cells. PiPS cells did not form tumors in vivo after subcutaneous transplantation in severe combined immunodeficiency mice and differentiated into SMCs when seeded on collagen IV and maintained in differentiation media. PiPS-SMCs expressed a panel of SMC markers at mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, the gene dickkopf 3 was found to be involved in the mechanism of PiPS-SMC differentiation. It was revealed that dickkopf 3 transcriptionally regulated SM22 by potentiation of Wnt signaling and interaction with Kremen1. Finally, PiPS-SMCs repopulated decellularized vessel grafts and ultimately gave rise to functional tissue-engineered vessels when combined with previously established PiPS-endothelial cells, leading to increased survival of severe combined immunodeficiency mice after transplantation of the vessel as a vascular graft.
Conclusions: We developed a protocol to generate SMCs from PiPS cells through a dickkopf 3 signaling pathway, useful for generating tissue-engineered vessels. These findings provide a new insight into the mechanisms of SMC differentiation with vast therapeutic potential.
- Received October 29, 2012.
- Revision received March 19, 2013.
- Accepted March 25, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.