Combinatorial conditioning of adipose derived-mesenchymal stem cells enhances their neurovascular potential: implications for intervertebral disc degeneration.

A L A Binch, Stephen Richardson, Judith Hoyland, F P Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are becoming an increasingly attractive option for regenerative therapies due to their availability, self-renewal capacity, multilineage potential and anti-inflammatory properties. Clinical trials are underway to test the efficacy of stem cell-based therapies for the repair and regeneration of the degenerate intervertebral disc (IVD), a major cause of back pain. Recently, both bone marrow-derived MSCs and adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) have been assessed for IVD therapy but there is a lack of knowledge surrounding the optimal cell source and the response of transplanted cells to the low oxygen, pro-inflammatory niche of the degenerate disc. Here, we investigated several neurovascular factors from donor-matched MSCs and ASCs that may potentiate the survival and persistence of sensory nerve fibres and blood vessels present within painful degenerate discs and their regulation by oxygen tensions and inflammatory cytokines. Donor-matched ASCs and MSCs were conditioned with either IL-1β or TNFα under normoxic (21% O2) or hypoxic (5% O2) conditions. Expression and secretion of several potent neurovascular factors were assessed using qRT-PCR and human magnetic Luminex® assay. ASCs and MSCs expressed constitutive levels of key neurotrophic factors; and stimulation of ASCs with hypoxia triggered increased secretion of both angiogenic factors (Ang-2 and VEGF-A) and neurotrophic (NGF & NT-3) compared to MSCs. We also report increased transcriptional regulation of pain-associated neuropeptides in hypoxia stimulated ASCs compared to those in normoxic conditions. We demonstrate transcriptional and translational upregulation of NGF, NT-3, Ang-1 and FGF-2 in response to cytokines in ASCs in 21% and 5% O2. This work highlights fundamental differences between the neurovascular secretome of donor-matched ASCs and MSCs, demonstrating the importance of cell-selection for tissue specific regeneration to reduce ectopic sensory nerve and blood vessel survival and improve patient outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJOR Spine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Oct 2019


  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • stem cells
  • regenerative therapy
  • intervertebral disc
  • Disc degeneration


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