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Russo V.,StemTeCh Group | Mauro A.,StemTeCh Group | Berardinelli P.,StemTeCh Group | Barboni B.,StemTeCh Group
Journal of Anatomy | Year: 2015

Processes of development during fetal life profoundly transform tendons from a plastic tissue into a highly differentiated structure, characterised by a very low ability to regenerate after injury in adulthood. Sheep tendon is frequently used as a translational model to investigate cell-based regenerative approaches. However, in contrast to other species, analytical and comparative baseline studies on the normal developmental maturation of sheep tendons from fetal through to adult life are not currently available. Thus, a detailed morphological and biochemical study was designed to characterise tissue maturation during mid- (2months of pregnancy: 14cm of length) and late fetal (4months: 40cm of length) life, through to adulthood. The results confirm that ovine tendon morphology undergoes profound transformations during this period. Endotenon was more developed in fetal tendons than in adult tissues, and its cell phenotype changed through tendon maturation. Indeed, groups of large rounded cells laying on smaller and more compacted ones expressing osteocalcin, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) were identified exclusively in fetal mid-stage tissues, and not in late fetal or adult tendons. VEGF, NGF as well as blood vessels and nerve fibers showed decreased expression during tendon development. Moreover, the endotenon of mid- and late fetuses contained identifiable cells that expressed several pluripotent stem cell markers [Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase (TERT), SRY Determining Region Y Box-2 (SOX2), Nanog Homeobox (NANOG) and Octamer Binding Transcription Factor-4A (OCT-4A)]. These cells were not identifiable in adult specimens. Ovine tendon development was also accompanied by morphological modifications to cell nuclei, and a progressive decrease in cellularity, proliferation index and expression of connexins 43 and 32. Tendon maturation was similarly characterised by modulation of several other gene expression profiles, including Collagen type I, Collagen type III, Scleraxis B, Tenomodulin, Trombospondin 4 and Osteocalcin. These gene profiles underwent a dramatic reduction in adult tissues. Transforming growth factor-β~1 expression (involved in collagen synthesis) underwent a similar decrease. In conclusion, these morphological studies carried out on sheep tendons at different stages of development and aging offer normal structural and molecular baseline data to allow accurate evaluation of data from subsequent interventional studies investigating tendon healing and regeneration in ovine experimental models. © 2014 The Authors.


Colosimo A.,University of Teramo | Colosimo A.,StemTech Group | Curini V.,University of Teramo | Curini V.,StemTech Group | And 13 more authors.
Cell Transplantation | Year: 2013

Amniotic fluid has drawn increasing attention in the recent past as a cost-effective and accessible source of fetal stem cells. Amniotic fluid-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AFMSCs) that display high proliferation rate, large spectrum of differentiation potential, and immunosuppressive features are considered optimal candidates for allogeneic repair of mesenchymal damaged tissues. In this study, ovine AFMSCs (oAFMSCs) isolated from 3-month-old sheep fetuses were characterized for their proliferation rate, specific surface antigen and pluripotency marker expression, genomic stability, and mesenchymal lineage differentiation during their in vitro expansion (12 passages) and after nucleofection. The high proliferation rate of oAFMSCs gradually decreased during the first six subculture passages while the expression of surface molecules (CD29, CD58, CD166) and of pluripotency-associated markers (OCT4, TERT, NANOG, SOX2), the in vitro osteogenic differentiation potential, and a normal karyotype were maintained. Afterwards, oAFMSCs were nucleofected with a selectable plasmid coding for green fluorescent protein (GFP) using two different programs, U23 and C17, previously optimized for human mesenchymal stem cells. Transfection efficiencies were ~63% and ~37%, while cell recoveries were ~10% and ~22%, respectively. Nucleofected oAFMSCs expressing the GFP transgene conserved their pluripotency marker profile and retained a normal karyotype and the osteogenic differentiation ability. Seven single clones with a GFP expression ranging from 80% to 97% were then isolated and expanded over 1 month, thus providing stably transfected cells with long-term therapeutic potential. The in vivo behavior of GFP-labeled oAFMSCs was tested on a previously validated preclinical model of experimentally induced Achille's tendon defect. The allotransplanted oAFMSCs were able to survive within the host tissue for 1 month enhancing the early phase of tendon healing as indicated by morphological and biomechanical results. Altogether these data suggest that genetically modified oAFMSCs might represent a valuable tool for in vivo preclinical studies in a highly valid translational model. © 2013 Cognizant Comm. Corp.


D'Alimonte I.,University of Chieti Pescara | D'Alimonte I.,StemTeCh Group | Lannutti A.,University of Chieti Pescara | Lannutti A.,StemTeCh Group | And 21 more authors.
Stem Cell Reviews and Reports | Year: 2013

Human amniotic fluid mesenchymal stem cells (huAFMSCs) are emerging as a promising therapeutic option in regenerative medicine. Here, we characterized huAFMSC phenotype and multipotentiality. When cultured in osteogenic medium, huAFMSC displayed a significant increase in: Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) activity and mRNA expression, Alizarin Red S staining and Runx2 mRNA expression; whereas maintaining these cells in an adipogenic culture medium gave a time-dependent increase in PPARγ and FABP4 mRNA expression, glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GPDH) activity and positivity to Oil Red Oil staining. These results confirm that huAFMSCs can differentiate toward osteogenic and adipogenic phenotypes. The canonical Wnt/ßcatenin signaling pathway appears to trigger huAFMSC osteoblastogenesis, since during early phases of osteogenic differentiation, the expression of Dishevelled-2 (Dvl-2), of the non-phosphorylated form of ß-catenin, and the phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase-3ß (GSK3ß) at serine 9 were upregulated. On the contrary, during adipogenic differentiation Dvl-2 expression decreased, whereas that of ß-catenin remained unchanged. This was associated with a late increase in GSK3ß phosphorylation. Consistent with this scenario, huAFMSCs exposure to Dickkopf-1, a selective inhibitor of the Wnt signaling, abolished Runx2 and ALP mRNA upregulation during huAFMSC osteogenic differentiation, whereas it enhanced FABP4 expression in adipocyte-differentiating cells. Taken together, these results unravel novel molecular determinants of huAFMSC commitment towards osteoblastogenesis, which may represent potential targets for directing the differentiation of these cells and improving their use in regenerative medicine. [Figure not available: see fulltext.] © 2013 The Author(s).


Gatta V.,University of Chieti Pescara | D'Aurora M.,University of Chieti Pescara | Lanuti P.,University of Chieti Pescara | Lanuti P.,StemTeCh Group | And 11 more authors.
BMC Genomics | Year: 2013

Background: It has been demonstrated that the umbilical cord matrix, represented by the Wharton's Jelly (WJ), contains a great number of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), characterized by the expression of specific MSCs markers, shared by both human and animal models. The easy access to massive WJ amount makes it an attractive source of MSCs for cell-based therapies. However, as in other stem cell models, a deeper investigation of WJ-derived MSCs (WJ-MSCs) biological properties, probably modulated by their prolonged expansion and fast growth abilities, is required before their use in clinical settings. In this context, in order to analyze specific gene expression modifications occurring in WJ-MSCs, along with their culture prolongation, we investigated the transcriptomic profiles of WJ-MSCs after 4 and 12 passages of in vitro expansion by microarray analysis.Results: Hierarchical clustering analysis of the data set originated from a total of 6 experiments revealed that in vitro expansion of WJ-MSCs up to 12 passages promote selective over-expression of 157 genes and down-regulation of 440 genes compared to the 4th passage. IPA software analysis of the biological functions related to the identified sets of genes disclosed several transcripts related to inflammatory and cell stress response, cell proliferation and maturation, and apoptosis.Conclusions: Taken together, these modifications may lead to an impairment of both cell expansion ability and resistance to apoptosis, two hallmarks of aging cells. In conclusion, results provided by the present study suggest the need to develop novel culture protocols able to preserve stem cell plasticity. © 2013 Gatta et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Barboni B.,University of Teramo | Barboni B.,StemTeCh Group | Curini V.,University of Teramo | Curini V.,StemTeCh Group | And 11 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: Amniotic epithelial cells (AEC) have potential applications in cell-based therapy. Thus far their ability to differentiate into tenocytes has not been investigated although a cell source providing a large supply of tenocytes remains a priority target of regenerative medicine in order to respond to the poor self-repair capability of adult tendons. Starting from this premise, the present research has been designed firstly to verify whether the co-culture with adult primary tenocytes could be exploited in order to induce tenogenic differentiation in AEC, as previously demonstrated in mesenchymal stem cells. Since the co-culture systems inducing cell differentiation takes advantage of specific soluble paracrine factors released by tenocytes, the research has been then addressed to study whether the co-culture could be improved by making use of the different cell populations present within tendon explants or of the high regenerative properties of fetal derived cell/tissue. Methodology/Principal Findings: Freshly isolated AEC, obtained from ovine fetuses at mid-gestation, were co-incubated with explanted tendons or primary tenocytes obtained from fetal or adult calcaneal tendons. The morphological and functional analysis indicated that AEC possessed tenogenic differentiation potential. However, only AEC exposed to fetal-derived cell/tissues developed in vitro tendon-like three dimensional structures with an expression profile of matrix (COL1 and THSB4) and mesenchymal/tendon related genes (TNM, OCN and SCXB) similar to that recorded in native ovine tendons. The tendon-like structures displayed high levels of organization as documented by the cell morphology, the newly deposited matrix enriched in COL1 and widespread expression of gap junction proteins (Connexin 32 and 43). Conclusions/Significance: The co-culture system improves its efficiency in promoting AEC differentiation by exploiting the inductive tenogenic soluble factors released by fetal tendon cells or explants. The co-cultural system can be proposed as a low cost and easy technique to engineer tendon for biological study and cell therapy approach. © 2012 Barboni et al.


Pierdomenico L.,University of Chieti Pescara | Pierdomenico L.,StemTeCh Group | Lanuti P.,University of Chieti Pescara | Lanuti P.,StemTeCh Group | And 13 more authors.
Open Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Journal | Year: 2011

Recent research indicates that the origin of obesity and related metabolic disorders is not only caused by genetic and risk factors in adult life (unbalanced diet, insufficient physical activity) but also may be influenced by the perinatal environment. In addition, studies in animal models suggest that the mesenchymal stem cell commitment into pre-adipocytes can already occur during fetal development and perinatal life. Since the number of pre-adipocytes and mature adipocytes is lower in normal subjects than in obese subjects, changes in the prenatal maturational process may play a role in the pathogenesis of obesity and metabolic-associated diseases. Hyperglycemia during pregnancy is related to an increased risk of obesity, early onset of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. For this reason it would be useful to investigate how the perinatal environment may affect fetal mesenchymal stem cells, especially in deregulated gestational diabetes, where the fetal environment is modified in terms of hormone levels and nutrition. Therefore, we have compared Wharton's jelly mesenchymal stem cells (WJ-MSC) obtained from umbilical cord of both healthy and diabetic mothers, in order to better understand the mechanisms involved in metabolic diseases in offspring of diabetic mothers. Results indicate that WJ-MSC from diabetic mothers display, in contrast to cells from healthy mothers, a higher ability to differentiate towards the adipogenic lineage. This suggests that the diabetic uterine environment may be responsible for a "pre-commitment" that could give rise in the post natal life to an alteration of adipocyte production upon an incorrect diet style, which in turn would produce obesity. © Pierdomenico et al.


Colosimo A.,University of Teramo | Russo V.,University of Teramo | Russo V.,StemTech Group | Mauro A.,University of Teramo | And 9 more authors.
Cytotherapy | Year: 2013

Background aims: Ovine amniotic fluid mesenchymal stromal cells (oAFMSCs) are an emerging alternative source of stem cells to develop pre-clinical cell replacement protocols. For tissue engineering purposes, oAFMSCs can be used either immediately after isolation or after in vitro expansion. However, detailed studies are still required to investigate the advantages and drawbacks of their in vitro expansion. Methods: The phenotype and osteogenic differentiation potential of oAFMSCs were analyzed in relation to in vitro expansion that was carried out for 20 consecutive passages. Expanded oAFMSCs were analyzed for proliferation index, expression profiles of several surface, pluripotency-associated and HLA antigens, global DNA methylation, telomere length and karyotype. The osteogenic differentiation ability of expanded oAFMSCs was assessed by qualitative and quantitative methods. Results: Expanded oAFMSCs reduced their proliferative activity after 10 passages and partially modified the expression of surface antigens and the intracellular distribution of pluripotency-associated markers (NANOG, SOX2 and TERT) after 20 passages. The phenotypic alteration of cultured oAFMSCs was associated with a reduction of in vitro osteogenic plasticity. In detail, after 20 passages of cellular expansion, oAFMSCs lost the ability to increase osteocalcin and decreased collagen type I messenger RNA expression. Also, a lower percentage of cells displayed intracellular calcium release after stimulation with salmon calcitonin. Conclusions: The results presented here suggest that long-term in vitro expansion may cause significant alterations in phenotypic features and plasticity of oAFMSCs, suggesting a careful re-evaluation of in vitro cultural and temporal conditions before employing expanded oAFMSCs for therapeutic purposes. © 2013 International Society for Cellular Therapy.


Simeone P.,University of Chieti Pescara | Trerotola M.,University of Chieti Pescara | Urbanella A.,University of Chieti Pescara | Lattanzio R.,University of Chieti Pescara | And 12 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Gliomas are the most frequent brain tumors. Among them, glioblastomas are malignant and largely resistant to available treatments. Histopathology is the gold standard for classification and grading of brain tumors. However, brain tumor heterogeneity is remarkable and histopathology procedures for glioma classification remain unsatisfactory for predicting disease course as well as response to treatment. Proteins that tightly associate with cancer differentiation and progression, can bear important prognostic information. Here, we describe the identification of protein clusters differentially expressed in high-grade versus low-grade gliomas. Tissue samples from 25 high-grade tumors, 10 low-grade tumors and 5 normal brain cortices were analyzed by 2D-PAGE and proteomic profiling by mass spectrometry. This led to identify 48 differentially expressed protein markers between tumors and normal samples. Protein clustering by multivariate analyses (PCA and PLS-DA) provided discrimination between pathological samples to an unprecedented extent, and revealed a unique network of deranged proteins. We discovered a novel glioblastoma control module centered on four major network hubs: Huntingtin, HNF4α, c-Myc and 14-3-3ζ. Immunohistochemistry, western blotting and unbiased proteome-wide meta-analysis revealed altered expression of this glioblastoma control module in human glioma samples as compared with normal controls. Moreover, the four-hub network was found to cross-talk with both p53 and EGFR pathways. In summary, the findings of this study indicate the existence of a unifying signaling module controlling glioblastoma pathogenesis and malignant progression, and suggest novel targets for development of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. © 2014 Simeone et al.


Santilli F.,University of Chieti Pescara | Santilli F.,StemTeCh Group | Marchisio M.,University of Chieti Pescara | Marchisio M.,StemTeCh Group | And 8 more authors.
Thrombosis and Haemostasis | Year: 2016

The term microparticle (MP) identifies a heterogeneous population of vesicles playing a relevant role in the pathogenesis of vascular diseases, cancer and metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus. MPs are released by virtually all cell types by shedding during cell growth, proliferation, activation, apoptosis or senescence processes. MPs, in particular platelet- and endothelial-derived MPs (PMPs and EMPs), are increased in a wide range of thrombotic disorders, with an interesting relationship between their levels and disease pathophysiology, activity or progression. EMP plasma levels have been associated with several cardiovascular diseases and risk factors. PMPs are also shown to be involved in the progressive formation of atherosclerotic plaque and development of arterial thrombosis, especially in diabetic patients. Indeed, diabetes is characterised by an increased procoagulant state and by a hyperreactive platelet phenotype, with enhanced adhesion, aggregation, and activation. Elevated MP levels, such as TF+ MPs, have been shown to be one of the procoagulant determinants in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Atherosclerotic plaque constitutes an opulent source of sequestered MPs, called “plaque” MPs. Otherwise, circulating MPs represent a TF reservoir, named “blood-borne” TF, challenging the dogma that TF is a constitutive protein expressed in minute amounts. “Blood-borne” TF is mainly harboured by PMPs, and it can be trapped within the developing thrombus. MP detection and enumeration by polychromatic flow cytometry (PFC) have opened interesting perspectives in clinical settings, particularly for the evaluation of MP numbers and phenotypes as independent marker of cardiovascular risk, disease and outcome in diabetic patients. © Schattauer 2016.


Rapino C.,University of Teramo | Rapino C.,StemTeCh Group | Battista N.,University of Teramo | Battista N.,European Center for Brain Research | And 4 more authors.
Human Reproduction Update | Year: 2014

Background: Infertility is a condition of the reproductive system that affects ~10-15% of couples attempting to conceive a baby. More than half of all cases of infertility are a result of female conditions, while the remaining cases can be attributed to male factors, or to a combination of both. The search for suitable biomarkers of pregnancy outcome is a challenging issue in human reproduction, aimed at identifying molecules with predictive significance of the reproductive potential of male and female gametes. Among the various candidates, endocannabinoids (eCBs), and in particular anandamide (AEA), represent potential biomarkers of human fertility disturbances. Any perturbation of the balance between synthesis and degradation of eCBs will result in local changes of their tone in human female and male reproductive tracts, which in turn regulates various pathophysiological processes, oocyte and sperm maturation included. Methods: PubMed and Web of Science databases were searched for papers using relevant keywords like 'biomarker', 'endocannabinoid', 'infertility', 'pregnancy' and 'reproduction'. Results: In this review, we discuss different studies on the measurements of AEA and related eCBs in human reproductive cells, tissues and fluids, where the local contribution of these bioactive lipids could be critical in ensuring normal sperm fertilizing ability and pregnancy. Conclusion: Based on the available data, we suggest that the AEA tone has the potential to be exploited as a novel diagnostic biomarker of infertility, to be used in association with assays of conventional hormones (e.g. progesterone, β-chorionic gonadotrophin) and semen analysis. However further quantitative research of its predictive capacity is required. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved.

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