Age-Associated Defects in EphA2 Signaling Impair the Migration of Human Cardiac Progenitor Cells
Background—Aging negatively impacts on the function of resident human cardiac progenitor cells (hCPCs). Effective regeneration of the injured heart requires mobilization of hCPCs to the sites of damage. In the young heart, signaling by the guidance receptor EphA2 in response to the ephrin A1 ligand promotes hCPC motility and improves cardiac recovery after infarction.
Methods and Results—We report that old hCPCs are characterized by cell-autonomous inhibition of their migratory ability ex vivo and impaired translocation in vivo in the damaged heart. EphA2 expression was not decreased in old hCPCs; however, the elevated level of reactive oxygen species in aged cells induced post-translational modifications of the EphA2 protein. EphA2 oxidation interfered with ephrin A1-stimulated receptor auto-phosphorylation, activation of Src family kinases, and caveolin-1-mediated internalization of the receptor. Cellular aging altered the EphA2 endocytic route, affecting the maturation of EphA2-containing endosomes and causing premature signal termination. Over-expression of functionally intact EphA2 in old hCPCs corrected the defects in endocytosis and downstream signaling, enhancing cell motility. Based on the ability of phenotypically young hCPCs to respond efficiently to ephrin A1, we developed a novel methodology for the prospective isolation of live hCPCs with preserved migratory capacity and growth reserve.
Conclusions—Our data demonstrate that the ephrin A1/EphA2 pathway may serve as a target to facilitate trafficking of hCPCs in the senescent myocardium. Importantly, EphA2 receptor function can be implemented for the selection of hCPCs with high therapeutic potential, a clinically relevant strategy that does not require genetic manipulation of stem cells.
- cell movement
- cardiac regeneration
- cardiac progenitor cell
- adult stem cells
- cardiac progenitor cells
- Received June 25, 2013.
- Revision received September 10, 2013.
- Accepted September 12, 2013.