Co-overexpression of TGF-β and SOX9 via rAAV gene transfer modulates the metabolic and chondrogenic activities of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells

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Abstract

Background: Articular cartilage has a limited potential for self-healing. Transplantation of genetically modified progenitor cells like bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is an attractive strategy to improve the intrinsic repair capacities of damaged articular cartilage. Methods: In this study, we examined the potential benefits of co-overexpressing the pleiotropic transformation growth factor beta (TGF-β) with the cartilage-specific transcription factor SOX9 via gene transfer with recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors upon the biological activities of human MSCs (hMSCs). Freshly isolated hMSCs were transduced over time with separate rAAV vectors carrying either TGF-β or sox9 in chondrogenically-induced aggregate cultures to evaluate the efficacy and duration of transgene expression and to monitor the effects of rAAV-mediated genetic modification upon the cellular activities (proliferation, matrix synthesis) and chondrogenic differentiation potency compared with control conditions (lacZ treatment, sequential transductions). Results: Significant, prolonged TGF-β/sox9 co-overexpression was achieved in chondrogenically-induced hMSCs upon co-transduction via rAAV for up to 21 days, leading to enhanced proliferative, biosynthetic, and chondrogenic activities relative to control treatments, especially when co-applying the candidate vectors at the highest vector doses tested. Optimal co-administration of TGF-β with sox9 also advantageously reduced hypertrophic differentiation of the cells in the conditions applied here. Conclusion: The present findings demonstrate the possibility of modifying MSCs by combined therapeutic gene transfer as potent future strategies for implantation in clinically relevant animal models of cartilage defects in vivo.

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Tao, K., Frisch, J., Rey-Rico, A., Venkatesan, J. K., Schmitt, G., Madry, H., … Cucchiarini, M. (2016). Co-overexpression of TGF-β and SOX9 via rAAV gene transfer modulates the metabolic and chondrogenic activities of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Stem Cell Research and Therapy, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-016-0280-9

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