Abstract 1340: Disruption of a Hepatocyte Growth Factor/c-Met Receptor Autocrine Loop Severely Impairs the Potency of Pluripotent Adipose Stromal Cells
Background Paracrine stimulation of endogenous repair, rather than direct tissue regeneration, is increasingly accepted as a major mode of therapeutic stem and progenitor cell action; yet, this principle has not been fully established in vivo. Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) secrete many factors and promote reperfusion and tissue repair in ischemia models. RNA interference was used to silence the expression of the abundant protein, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), to determine its contribution to ASC potency in vivo.
Methods and Results Dual-cassette lentiviral vectors, expressing GFP and either a small hairpin RNA (shRNA) specific for HGF mRNA (shHGF) or a control sequence (shCtrl), were used to stably transduce ASCs (ASC-shHGF or ASC-shCtrl). ASC-shHGF secreted 5-fold less HGF, which resulted in a reduced ability of these cells to promote survival, proliferation and migration of mature and progenitor endothelial cells in vitro (p<0.01). HGF knockdown also severely impaired the ability of ASCs to promote reperfusion in a mouse hindlimb ischemia model. Perfusion of the ischemic leg at 15 d in mice treated with ASC-Ctrl was 84±4%, compared to only 69±5% for ASC-shHGF (p<0.05). Even so, ASC-shHGF retained residual activity as indicated by greater reperfusion (p<0.05) than with saline treatment (58±6%). Capillary densities in ischemic tissues from each group followed a similar rank order (ASC-Ctrl>ASC-shHGF>saline) (p<0.05 between each group). While there was no difference in total GFP+ cells in ischemic limbs at 5 d after infusion, indicating similar homing potentials, 3-fold fewer ASC-shHGF were present in ischemic tissues at 15 d compared to ASC-shCtrl (p<0.01). This was accompanied by an increase in TUNEL-positive ASC-shHGF cells (61 ± 0.1%) compared to ASC-Ctrl (41% ± 3.2%) in ischemic tissues at 5 d (p<0.01); suggesting that attenuated potency of ASC-shHGF was related to reduced survival in ischemic tissues.
Conclusions These results indicate that secretion of HGF is critically important for ASC potency. In addition to promoting endogenous repair, the data suggest that an important effect of HGF is autocrine promotion of ASC survival in ischemic tissue. Enhanced donor cell survival is an important goal for increasing the efficacy of cell therapy.