Implanted biomaterials and biomedical devices generally induce foreign body reaction and end up with encapsulation by a dense avascular fibrous layer enriched in extracellular matrix. Fibroblasts/myofibroblasts are thought to be the major cell type involved in encapsulation, but it is unclear whether and how stem cells contribute to this process. Here we show, for the first time, that Sox10+ adult stem cells contribute to both encapsulation and microvessel formation. Sox10+ adult stem cells were found sparsely in the stroma of subcutaneous loose connective tissues. Upon subcutaneous biomaterial implantation, Sox10+ stem cells were activated and recruited to the biomaterial scaffold, and differentiated into fibroblasts and then myofibroblasts. This differentiation process from Sox10+ stem cells to myofibroblasts could be recapitulated in vitro. On the other hand, Sox10+ stem cells could differentiate into perivascular cells to stabilize newly formed microvessels. Sox10+ stem cells and endothelial cells in three-dimensional co-culture self-assembled into microvessels, and platelet-derived growth factor had chemotactic effect on Sox10+ stem cells. Transplanted Sox10+ stem cells differentiated into smooth muscle cells to stabilize functional microvessels. These findings demonstrate the critical role of adult stem cells in tissue remodeling and unravel the complexity of stem cell fate determination.
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