Exposing mesenchymal stem cells to chondroitin sulphated proteoglycans reduces their angiogenic and neuro-adhesive paracrine activity

Chelsea Wood, Ibtesam Al-delfi, John F. Innes, Peter Myint, William E. B. Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The multifactorial complexity of spinal cord injuries includes the formation of a glial scar, of which chondroitin sulphated proteoglycans (CSPG) are an integral component. Previous studies have shown CSPG to have inhibitory effects on endothelial and neuronal cell growth, highlighting the difficulty of spinal cord regeneration. Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC) are widely used as a cell therapy, and there is mounting evidence for their angiogenic and neurotrophic paracrine properties. However, in vivo studies have observed poor engraftment and survival of MSC when injected into SCI. Currently, it is not known whether increasing CSPG concentrations seen after SCI may affect MSC; therefore we have investigated the effects of CSPG exposure to MSC in vitro. CSPG-mediated inhibition of MSC adhesion was observed when MSC were cultured on substrates of increasing CSPG concentration, however MSC viability was not affected even up to five days of culture. Culture conditioned medium harvested from these cultures (primed MSC CM) was used as both culture substrata and soluble medium for EA.hy926 endothelial cells and SH-SY5Y neuronal cells. MSC CM was angiogenic, promoting endothelial cell adhesion, proliferation and tubule formation. However, exposing MSC to CSPG reduced the effects of CSPG-primed MSC CM on endothelial cell adhesion and proliferation, but did not reduce MSC-induced endothelial tubule formation. Primed MSC CM also promoted neuronal cell adhesion, which was reduced following exposure to CSPG. There were no marked differences in neurite outgrowth in MSC CM from CSPG primed MSC cultures versus control conditions, although non-primed MSC CM from the same donors was found to significantly enhance neurite outgrowth. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that MSC are resilient to CSPG exposure, but that there is a marked effect of CSPG on their paracrine regenerative activity. The findings increase our understanding of how the wound microenvironment after SCI can mitigate the beneficial effects of MSC transplantation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-36
Early online date19 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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