Osteogenesis of heterotopically transplanted mesenchymal stromal cells in rat models of chronic kidney disease

Rafael Kramann, Uta Kunter, Vincent M Brandenburg, Isabelle Leisten, Josef Ehling, Barbara M Klinkhammer, Ruth Knüchel, Jürgen Floege, Rebekka K Schneider
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: the Official Journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2013, 28 (12): 2523-34
The current study is based on the hypothesis of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) contributing to soft-tissue calcification and ectopic osteogenesis in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Rat MSCs were transplanted intraperitoneally in an established three-dimensional collagen-based model in healthy control animals and two rat models of CKD and vascular calcification: (1) 5/6 nephrectomy + high phosphorus diet; and (2) adenine nephropathy. As internal controls, collagen gels without MSCs were transplanted in the same animals. After 4 and 8 weeks, MSCs were still detectable and proliferating in the collagen gels (fluorescence-activated cell sorting [FACS] analysis and confocal microscopy after fluorescence labeling of the cells). Aortas and MSC-containing collagen gels in CKD animals showed distinct similarities in calcification (micro-computed tomography [µCT], energy-dispersive X-ray [EDX] analysis, calcium content), induction of osteogenic markers, (ie, bone morphogenic protein 2 [BMP-2], Runt related transcription factor 2 [Runx2], alkaline phosphatase [ALP]), upregulation of the osteocytic marker sclerostin and extracellular matrix remodeling with increased expression of osteopontin, collagen I/III/IV, fibronectin, and laminin. Calcification, osteogenesis, and matrix remodeling were never observed in healthy control animals and non-MSC-containing collagen gels in all groups. Paul Karl Horan 26 (PKH-26)-labeled, 3G5-positive MSCs expressed Runx2 and sclerostin in CKD animals whereas PKH-26-negative migrated cells did not express osteogenic markers. In conclusion, heterotopically implanted MSCs undergo osteogenic differentiation in rat models of CKD-induced vascular calcification, supporting our hypothesis of MSCs as possible players in heterotopic calcification processes of CKD patients.

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