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Chieti, Italy

Colosimo A.,University of Teramo | Colosimo A.,StemTeCh Group | Curini V.,University of Teramo | Curini V.,StemTeCh Group | And 13 more authors.
Cell Transplantation

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. Source

Barboni B.,University of Teramo | Barboni B.,StemTeCh Group | Curini V.,University of Teramo | Curini V.,StemTeCh Group | And 11 more authors.

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. Source

Colosimo A.,University of Teramo | Russo V.,University of Teramo | Russo V.,StemTeCh Group | Mauro A.,University of Teramo | And 9 more authors.

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. Source

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

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. Source

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

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. Source

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