An engineered three-dimensional stem cell niche in the inner ear by applying a nanofibrillar cellulose hydrogel with a sustained-release neurotrophic factor delivery system

Hsiang Tsun Chang, Rachel A. Heuer, Andrew M. Oleksijew, Kyle S. Coots, Christian B. Roque, Kevin T. Nella, Tammy L. McGuire, Akihiro J. Matsuoka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although the application of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in stem cell–replacement therapy remains promising, its potential is hindered by a low cell survival rate in post-transplantation within the inner ear. Here, we aim to enhance the in vitro and in vivo survival rate and neuronal differentiation of otic neuronal progenitors (ONPs) by generating an artificial stem cell niche consisting of three-dimensional (3D) hESC-derived ONP spheroids with a nanofibrillar cellulose hydrogel and a sustained-release brain-derivative neurotrophic factor delivery system. Our results demonstrated that the transplanted hESC-derived ONP spheroids survived and neuronally differentiated into otic neuronal lineages in vitro and in vivo and also extended neurites toward the bony wall of the cochlea 90 days after the transplantation without the use of immunosuppressant medication. Our data in vitro and in vivo presented here provide sufficient evidence that we have established a robust, reproducible protocol for in vivo transplantation of hESC-derived ONPs to the inner ear. Using our protocol to create an artificial stem cell niche in the inner ear, it is now possible to work on integrating transplanted hESC-derived ONPs further and also to work toward achieving functional auditory neurons generated from hESCs. Our findings suggest that the provision of an artificial stem cell niche can be a future approach to stem cell–replacement therapy for inner-ear regeneration. Statement of Significance: Inner ear regeneration utilizing human embryonic stem cell-derived otic neuronal progenitors (hESC-derived ONPs) has remarkable potential for treating sensorineural hearing loss. However, the local environment of the inner ear requires a suitable stem cell niche to allow hESC-derived ONP engraftment as well as neuronal differentiation. To overcome this obstacle, we utilized three-dimensional spheroid formation (direct contact), nanofibrillar cellulose hydrogel (extracellular matrix), and a neurotrophic factor delivery system to artificially create a stem cell niche in vitro and in vivo. Our in vitro and in vivo data presented here provide sufficient evidence that we have established a robust, reproducible protocol for in vivo transplantation of hESC-derived ONPs to the inner ear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Volume108
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • Human embryonic stem cells
  • Human pluripotent stem cells
  • Hydrogel
  • Spiral ganglion neurons
  • Stem cell niche
  • Stem cell–replacement therapy
  • The inner ear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology

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