Although therapeutic effect of adoptive transfer of endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) has been well-substantiated, the actual engraftment is relatively low compared to a robust functional improvement of vasculopathy. Cellular mechanisms governing this action remain elusive. A recently discovered cell-cell communication via tunneling nanotube (TNT) formation is capable of transferring mitochondria and lysosomes between the cells - "organellar diakinesis". Based on the previous demonstration of lysosomal dysfunction in endothelial cells exposed to AGE-modified collagen I, we inquired whether TNT mechanism may be involved in EPC-mediated repair of stressed endothelial cells. Here we demonstrate that EPC selectively and multiplicatively establish TNT communication with stressed endothelia. The guidance cues for the selectivity are provided by exofacially exposed phosphatidylserine moieties. Lysosomal transfer is associated with the preservation of lysosomal pH gradient, functionally reconstituting lysosomal pool of stressed cells and improving endothelial cell viability, reducing premature senescence and apoptosis. In vivo, adoptive transfer of EPC to streptozotocin-diabetic mice results in a TNT-dependent reduction of senescent endothelial cells and correction of endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation. Collectively, these data establish a selective multiplicative effect of TNT between EPC and stressed endothelia, reconstitution of the lysosomal pool, and improved viability and function of stressed endothelia.
Yasuda, K., Khandare, A., Burianovskyy, L., Maruyama, S., Zhang, F., Nasjletti, A., & Goligorsky, M. S. (2011). Tunneling nanotubes mediate rescue of prematurely senescent endothelial cells by endothelial progenitors: Exchange of lysosomal pool. Aging, 3(6), 597–608. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.100341