Tethering transforming growth factor β1 to soft hydrogels guides vascular smooth muscle commitment from human mesenchymal stem cells

Yonghui Ding*, Richard Johnson, Sadhana Sharma, Xiaoyun Ding, Stephanie J. Bryant, Wei Tan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold great promise for vascular smooth muscle regeneration. However, most studies have mainly relied on extended supplementation of sophisticated biochemical regimen to drive MSC differentiation towards vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs). Herein we demonstrate a concomitant method that exploits the advantages of biomimetic matrix stiffness and tethered transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) to guide vSMC commitment from human MSCs. Our designed poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels, presenting a biomimetic stiffness and tethered TGF-β1, provide an instructive environment to potently upregulate smooth muscle marker expression in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, it significantly enhances the functional contractility of vSMCs derived from MSCs within 3 days. Interestingly, compared to non-tethered one, tethered TGF-β1 enhanced the potency of vSMC commitment on hydrogels. We provide compelling evidence that combining stiffness and tethered TGF-β1 on poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels can be a promising approach to drastically enhance maturation and function of vSMCs from stem cell differentiation in vitro and in vivo. Statement of Significance: A fast, reliable and safe regeneration of vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs) from stem cell differentiation is promising for vascular tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications, but remains challenging. Herein, a photo-click hydrogel platform is devised to recapitulate the stiffness of vascular tissue and appropriate presentation of transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) to guide vSMC commitment from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). We demonstrate that such concomitant method drastically enhanced regeneration of mature, functional vSMCs from MSCs in vitro and in vivo within only a 3-days span. This work is not only of fundamental scientific importance, revealing how physiochemical factors and the manner of their presentation direct stem cell differentiation, but also attacks the long-standing difficulty in regenerating highly functional vSMCs within a short period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-77
Number of pages10
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Volume105
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Hydrogels
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Smooth muscle cells
  • Stiffness
  • Transforming growth factor β1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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