While the studies on the material interaction with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been mainly focused on the ability of materials to provide environment to regulate cell viability, proliferation or differentiation, the therapeutic effects of MSC-material constructs may result from the secretion of immunomodulatory and angiogenic cytokines from MSCs. Here, electrospun scaffolds composed of fibers in random, aligned and mesh-like patterns were fabricated, and the paracrine behavior of adipose-derived MSCs (Ad-MSCs) on the scaffolds were investigated in comparison to the cell culture via conventional microplates. It was found that the Ad-MSCs on the electrospun fibers produced significantly higher levels of anti-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic cytokines compared to those cultured on microplates. The enhanced modulatory effects of the secreted products of Ad-MSCs on fibrous electrospun scaffolds were also proven in the cultures of endothelial cells and the LPS-stimulated macrophages, with three types of scaffolds showing distinct influences on the paracrine function of Ad-MSCs. In a skin excisional wound-healing model in rat, the conditioned medium collected from the MSC-scaffold system accelerated the wound closure, promoted the macrophage recruitment and enhanced the polarization of macrophages toward the pro-healing phenotype in the wound bed. Our study demonstrates that the fibrous topography of scaffolds is a key material property that modulates the paracrine function of cells. The discovery elucidates a new aspect of material functions, laying the foundation for developing scaffold materials to promote tissue regeneration/repair through guiding the paracrine signaling network.
Su, N., Gao, P. L., Wang, K., Wang, J. Y., Zhong, Y., & Luo, Y. (2017). Fibrous scaffolds potentiate the paracrine function of mesenchymal stem cells: A new dimension in cell-material interaction. Biomaterials, 141, 74–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.06.028