Hydrogel Culture Surface Stiffness Modulates Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Secretome and Alters Senescence.Tissue Eng Part A. 2020 Jul 06 [Online ahead of print]TE
Current cell culture surfaces used for the expansion and production of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are not optimized for the production of highly secretory and nonsenescent cells. In this study, we used poly (ethylene glycol) hydrogel substrates with tunable mechanical and biochemical properties to screen the effect of culture surfaces on pro-regenerative secretome by multiplex enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, proliferation by PicoGreen DNA analysis, and senescence by senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity. We demonstrate that MSCs cultured on 30 kPa hydrogels, regardless of biochemical functionalization, broadly enhanced the secretion of immunomodulatory and regenerative factors versus stiffer 100 kPa or tissue culture plastic surfaces, but did not support robust proliferation. In contrast, culture on 100 kPa hydrogel surfaces promoted proliferation at a similar level and did not substantially alter the amount of secreted factors as compared with tissue culture plastic. Culture on integrin-engaging, cadherin-engaging, and hyaluronic acid-containing 30 kPa substrates enhanced MSC-conditioned media (CM) angiogenic activity in a human umbilical vein endothelial cell tube formation assay and human THP-1 monocyte chemoattraction in a transwell assay. However, 30 kPa substrate culture did not impact the myogenic activity of MSC CM in a C2C12 myoblast tube formation assay. Culture on selected 100 kPa surfaces enhanced CM angiogenic activity and monocyte chemotaxis, but not myogenic activity. Serial culture on 100 kPa RGD hydrogel surfaces significantly reduced senescence in MSCs versus tissue culture plastic, while maintaining the capacity of the cells to enhance their secretome in response to 30 kPa surfaces. Thus, hydrogel substrates that exhibit stiffness orders of magnitude lower than standard tissue culture plastic can serve as novel surfaces for the production of MSCs with an improved therapeutic secretory capacity and reduced senescence. Impact statement The success of mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-based therapies is dependent on the manufacture of a large number of cells with high therapeutic potency. Among the culture surfaces tested in this study, we demonstrate that substrate stiffness rather than biochemical functionalization predominantly guides changes in MSC proliferation and secretory capacity. We have identified substrate parameters to support MSC proliferation, enhance secretion of paracrine factors, and to reduce replicative senescence. By maximizing secretory capacity and reducing senescence through the choice of hydrogel culture materials, these findings have great potential to improve the large-scale production of therapeutic MSCs.