Multifunctional biomimetic hydrogel systems to boost the immunomodulatory potential of mesenchymal stromal cells

Citation:

Gonzalez-Pujana A, Vining KH, Zhang DKY, Santos-Vizcaino E, Igartua M, Hernandez RM, Mooney DJ. Multifunctional biomimetic hydrogel systems to boost the immunomodulatory potential of mesenchymal stromal cells. Biomaterials. 2020;257 :120266.

Date Published:

2020 Oct

Abstract:

Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) hold great therapeutic potential, in part because of their immunomodulatory properties. However, these properties can be transient and depend on multiple factors. Here, we developed a multifunctional hydrogel system to synergistically enhance the immunomodulatory properties of MSCs, using a combination of sustained inflammatory licensing and three-dimensional (3D) encapsulation in hydrogels with tunable mechanical properties. The immunomodulatory extracellular matrix hydrogels (iECM) consist of an interpenetrating network of click functionalized-alginate and fibrillar collagen, in which interferon γ (IFN-γ) loaded heparin-coated beads are incorporated. The 3D microenvironment significantly enhanced the expression of a wide panel of pivotal immunomodulatory genes in bone marrow-derived primary human MSCs (hMSCs), compared to two-dimensional (2D) tissue culture. Moreover, the inclusion of IFN-γ loaded heparin-coated beads prolonged the expression of key regulatory genes upregulated upon licensing, including indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) and galectin-9 (GAL9). At a protein level, iECM hydrogels enhanced the secretion of the licensing responsive factor Gal-9 by hMSCs. Its presence in hydrogel conditioned media confirmed the correct release and diffusion of the factors secreted by hMSCs from the system. Furthermore, co-culture of iECM-encapsulated hMSCs and activated human T cells resulted in suppressed proliferation, demonstrating direct regulation on immune cells. These data highlight the potential of iECM hydrogels to enhance the immunomodulatory properties of hMSCs in cell therapies.