Effects on proliferation and differentiation of multipotent bone marrow stromal cells engineered to express growth factors for combined cell and gene therapy

Fernando A Fierro, Stefanos Kalomoiris, Claus S. Sondergaard, Jan Nolta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

98 Scopus citations


A key mechanism for mesenchymal stem cells/bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs) to promote tissue repair is by secretion of soluble growth factors (GFs). Therefore, clinical application could be optimized by a combination of cell and gene therapies, where MSCs are genetically modified to express higher levels of a specific factor. However, it remains unknown how this overexpression may alter the fate of the MSCs. Here, we show effects of overexpressing the growth factors, such as basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), platelet derived growth factor B (PDGF-BB), transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), in human bone marrow-derived MSCs. Ectopic expression of bFGF or PDGF-B lead to highly proliferating MSCs and lead to a robust increase in osteogenesis. In contrast, adipogenesis was strongly inhibited in MSCs overexpressing PDGF-B and only mildly affected in MSCs overexpressing bFGF. Overexpression of TGFβ1 blocked both osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation while inducing the formation of stress fibers and increasing the expression of the smooth muscle marker calponin-1 and the chondrogenic marker collagen type II. In contrast, MSCs overexpressing VEGF did not vary from control MSCs in any parameters, likely due to the lack of VEGF receptor expression on MSCs. MSCs engineered to overexpress VEGF strongly induced the migration of endothelial cells and enhanced blood flow restoration in a xenograft model of hind limb ischemia. These data support the rationale for genetically modifying MSCs to enhance their therapeutically relevant trophic signals, when safety and efficacy can be demonstrated, and when it can be shown that there are no unwanted effects on their proliferation and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1727-1737
Number of pages11
JournalStem Cells
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011



  • Angiogenesis
  • Bone marrow stromal cells
  • Growth factors
  • Mesenchymal stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Medicine

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