GLP-1 CellBead Therapy for the Prevention of Left Ventricular Dysfunction in Pigs

  • Elizabeth Wright

Student thesis: Phd


Background: Stem cells are a promising therapy for regeneration following myocardial infarction (MI). Another therapy currently under investigation for MI is glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a natural incretin hormone that has cardio-protective properties, although a short half-life in vivo. GLP-1 CellBeads are a novel therapy, combining stem cells and GLP-1. Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were immortalised, engineered to secrete a fusion protein of GLP-1 and encapsulated in alginate. We have previously demonstrated that GLP-1 CellBeads significantly reduce infarct size and improve ejection fraction post-MI, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. The therapy was assessed in an in vivo pig MI model and an in vitro cardiomyocyte ischaemia model. Methods: GLP-1 CellBeads were delivered to coronary artery branches in pigs, creating micro-infarcts, as determined by echocardiography. Cell-free beads (Beads) and CellBeads containing hMSCs without GLP-1 (Beads-MSC) were delivered as controls (n=3-5/group). Pigs were sacrificed one and four weeks post-MI. Tissue was analysed for: apoptosis, collagen, cardiomyocyte cross sectional area and myofibroblasts. The localised response around the beads was also measured using immunohistochemistry. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to examine the ultra-structure of the collagen scar. The expression profiles of genes involved in collagen remodelling were measured using qRT-PCR. Viability of MSCs was measured using GFP-tagging and confirmed using qRT-PCR. To examine effects on apoptosis in vitro, human adult cardiomyocytes underwent ischaemia for 1 hour before incubation with: media conditioned with MSCs or MSC+GLP-1, GLP-1, Exendin-4 or media. Apoptosis and viability were measured at 24 and 48 hours respectively.Results: In the in vivo pig model, significant increases in apoptosis were observed in the infarct of all groups one week post-MI, with no differences between treatments. Despite decreased numbers of myofibroblasts, significantly more collagen was observed in MSC treated groups, with increased collagen fibril periodicity and a more organised collagen scar. The altered scar structure was reflected in differences in gene expression between groups, with an accelerated healing response in the MSC groups. However, significantly fewer myofibroblasts were observed in the MSC treated groups. Viability of MSCs was confirmed up to four weeks post-infusion, with GLP-1 secretion confirmed up to one week. In the in vitro ischaemia model, MSC+GLP-1 conditioned media significantly reduced cardiomyocyte apoptosis 24 hours post-ischaemia, compared to media alone. All agonists (GLP-1, MSC media and MSC+GLP-1 media) significantly improved viability compared to media alone 48 hours post-ischaemia. Conclusions GLP-1 CellBeads have a beneficial effect on healing following MI by significantly decreasing infarct size and improving ejection fraction post-MI. these benefits are associated with decreased cardiomyocyte apoptosis and altered collagen scar formation. The CellBeads act as local hubs for regeneration and are viable up to one month post-infusion. The effects observed are due to a combination of the GLP-1 and paracrine factors released from the hMSCs.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCathy Holt (Supervisor) & Nadim Malik (Supervisor)


  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • GLP-1
  • Myocardial infarction

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