Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Pharmaceutical induction of ApoE secretion by multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs)

Suzanne Zeitouni12, Brian S Ford1, Sean M Harris1, Mandolin J Whitney1, Carl A Gregory12 and Darwin J Prockop12*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Gene Therapy, Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans, LA,70115, USA

2 Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Temple, TX,76502, USA

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BMC Biotechnology 2008, 8:75  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-8-75

Published: 29 September 2008

Abstract

Background

Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is a molecular scavenger in the blood and brain. Aberrant function of the molecule causes formation of protein and lipid deposits or "plaques" that characterize Alzheimer's disease (AD) and atherosclerosis. There are three human isoforms of ApoE designated ε2, ε3, and ε4. Each isoform differentially affects the structure and function of the protein and thus the development of disease. Homozygosity for ApoE ε4 is associated with atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease whereas ApoE ε2 and ε3 tend to be protective. Furthermore, the ε2 form may cause forms of hyperlipoproteinemia. Therefore, introduction of ApoE ε3 may be beneficial to patients that are susceptible to or suffering from these diseases. Mesenchymal stem cells or multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are adult progenitor cells found in numerous tissues. They are easily expanded in culture and engraft into host tissues when administered appropriately. Furthermore, MSCs are immunosuppressive and have been reported to engraft as allogeneic transplants. In our previous study, mouse MSCs (mMSCs) were implanted into the brains of ApoE null mice, resulting in production of small amounts of ApoE in the brain and attenuation of cognitive deficits. Therefore human MSCs (hMSCs) are a promising vector for the administration of ApoE ε3 in humans.

Results

Unlike mMSCs, hMSCs were found not to express ApoE in culture; therefore a molecular screen was performed for compounds that induce expression. PPARγ agonists, neural stem cell conditioned medium, osteo-inductive media, dexamethasone, and adipo-inductive media (AIM) were tested. Of the conditions tested, only AIM or dexamethasone induced sustained secretion of ApoE in MSCs and the duration of secretion was only limited by the length of time MSCs could be sustained in culture. Upon withdrawal of the inductive stimuli, the ApoE secretion persisted for a further 14 days.

Conclusion

The data demonstrated that pre-treatment and perhaps co-administration of MSCs homozygous for ApoE ε3 and dexamethasone may represent a novel therapy for severe instances of AD, atherosclerosis and other ApoE-related diseases.