Engineered Cell-Secreted Extracellular Matrix Modulates Cell Spheroid Mechanosensing and Amplifies Their Response to Inductive Cues for the Formation of Mineralized Tissues

Tomas Gonzalez-Fernandez, Alejandro J. Tenorio, Augustine M. Saiz, J. Kent Leach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The clinical translation of mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-based therapies remains challenging due to rapid cell death and poor control over cell behavior. Compared to monodisperse cells, the aggregation of MSCs into spheroids increases their tissue-forming potential by promoting cell–cell interactions. However, MSCs initially lack engagement with an endogenous extracellular matrix (ECM) when formed into spheroids. Previously the instructive nature of an engineered, cell-secreted ECM is demonstrated to promote survival and differentiation of adherent MSCs. Herein, it is hypothesized that the incorporation of this cell-secreted ECM during spheroid aggregation would enhance MSC osteogenic potential by promoting cell–matrix and cell–cell interactions. ECM-loaded spheroids contained higher collagen and glycosaminoglycan content, and MSCs exhibited increased mechanosensitivity to ECM through Yes-associated protein (YAP) activation via integrin α2β1 binding. ECM-loaded spheroids sustained greater MSC viability and proliferation and are more responsive to soluble cues for lineage-specific differentiation than spheroids without ECM or loaded with collagen. The encapsulation of ECM-loaded spheroids in instructive alginate gels resulted in spheroid fusion and enhanced osteogenic differentiation. These results highlight the clinical potential of ECM-loaded spheroids as building blocks for the repair of musculoskeletal tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmaceutical Science

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