Enhancing Myocardial Repair with CardioClusters

Megan M. Monsanto, BS, Bingyan J. Wang, MS, Zach R. Ehrenberg, BS, Oscar Echeagaray, BS, Kevin S. White, BS, Roberto Alvarez Jr., PhD, Kristina Fisher, BS, Sharon Sengphanith, BS, Alvin Muliono, BS, Natalie A. Gude, PhD, Mark A. Sussman, PhD

Sep 09, 2019
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Received Date: 30th August 19

Background: Cellular therapy to treat heart failure is an ongoing focus of intense research and development, but progress has been frustratingly slow due to limitations of current approaches. Engineered augmentation of established cellular effectors overcomes impediments, enhancing reparative activity with improved outcomes relative to conventional techniques. Such ‘next generation’ implementation includes delivery of combinatorial cell populations exerting synergistic effects. Concurrent isolation and expansion of three distinct cardiac-derived interstitial cell types from human heart tissue, as previously reported by our group, prompted design of a three-dimensional (3D) structure that maximizes cellular interaction, allows for defined cell ratios, controls size, enables injectability, and minimizes cell losses upon delivery.

Methods: Three distinct populations of human cardiac interstitial cells including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), and c-Kit+ cardiac interstitial cells (cCICs) when cultured together spontaneously form scaffold-free 3D microenvironments termed CardioClusters. Biological consequences of CardioCluster formation were assessed by multiple assays including single cells RNA-Seq transcriptional profiling. Protective effects of CardioClusters in vitro were measured using cell culture models for oxidative stress and myocardial ischemia in combination with freshly isolated neonatal rat ventricular myocytes. Long-term impact of adoptively transferred CardioClusters upon myocardial structure and function in a xenogenic model of acute infarction using NODscid mice was assessed over a longitudinal time course of 20-weeks.

Results: CardioCluster design enables control over composite cell types, cell ratios, size, and preservation of structural integrity during delivery. Profound changes for biological properties of CardioClusters relative to constituent parental cell populations include enhanced expression of stem cell-relevant factors, adhesion/extracellular-matrix molecules, and cytokines. The CardioCluster 3D microenvironment maximizes cellular interaction while maintaining a more native transcriptome similar to endogenous cardiac cells. CardioCluster delivery improves cell retention following intramyocardial injection with preservation of long-term cardiac function relative to monolayer-cultured cells when tested in an experimental murine infarction model followed for up to 20 weeks post-challenge. CardioCluster-treated hearts show increases in capillary density, preservation of cardiomyocyte size, and reduced scar size indicative of blunting pathologic infarction injury.

Conclusions: CardioClusters are a novel ‘next generation’ development and delivery approach for cellular therapeutics that potentiate beneficial activity and enhance protective effects of human cardiac interstitial cell mixed populations. CardioClusters utilization in this preclinical setting establishes fundamental methodologic and biologic insights, laying the framework for optimization of CardioCluster design to provide greater efficacy in cell-based therapeutic interventions intended to mitigate cardiomyopathic damage.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature