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Background: Stem cell therapy is considered as a promising alternative to treat intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). Extensive work had been done on identifying and comparing different types of candidate stem cells, both in vivo and in vitro. However, few studies have shed light on degenerative nucleus pulposus cells (NPCs), especially their biological behavior under the influence of exogenous stem cells, specifically the gene expression and regulation pattern. In the present study, we aimed to determine messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which are differentially expressed during the co-culturing process with adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) and to explore the involved signaling pathways and the regulatory networks. Methods: We compared degenerative NPCs co-cultured with ASCs with those cultured solely using lncRNA-mRNA microarray analysis. Based on these data, we investigated the significantly regulated signaling pathways based on the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway database. Moreover, 23 micro RNAs (miRNAs), which were demonstrated to be involved in IDD were chosen; we investigated their theoretic regulatory importance associated with our microarray data. Results: We found 632 lncRNAs and 1682 mRNAs were differentially expressed out of a total of 40,716 probes. We then confirmed the microarray data by real-time PCR. Furthermore, we demonstrated 197 upregulated, and 373 downregulated Gene Ontology terms and 176 significantly enriched pathways, such as the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Also, a signal-net was constructed to reveal the interplay among differentially expressed genes. Meanwhile, a mRNA-lncRNA co-expression network was constructed for the significantly changed mRNAs and lncRNAs. Also, the competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) network was built. Conclusion: Our results present the first comprehensive identification of differentially expressed lncRNAs and mRNAs of degenerative NPCs, altered by co-culturing with ASCs, and outline the gene expression regulation pattern. These may provide valuable information for better understanding of stem cell therapy and potential candidate biomarkers for IDD treatment.
Han, Z., Wang, J., Gao, L., Wang, Q., & Wu, J. (2018). Aberrantly expressed messenger RNAs and long noncoding RNAs in degenerative nucleus pulposus cells co-cultured with adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Arthritis Research and Therapy, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13075-018-1677-x