The effect of mesenchymal stromal cell-hyaluronic acid hydrogel constructs on immunophenotype of macrophages.
During the past several years, multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have rapidly moved from in vitro and animal studies into clinical trials as a therapeutic modality potentially applicable to a wide range of disorders. It has been proposed that ex vivo culture-expanded MSCs exert their tissue regeneration potential through their immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, and paracrine effects more than their ability to differentiate into multiple tissue lineages. Since extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition and tissue support is also one of many physiological roles of MSCs, there is increasing interest in their potential use for tissue engineering, particularly in combination with ECM-based scaffolds such as hyaluronic acid (HA). We investigated the effect of MSCs on immunophenotype of macrophages in the presence of an HA-hydrogel scaffold using a unique 3D coculture system. MSCs were encapsulated in the hydrogel and peripheral blood CD14+ monocyte-derived macrophages plated in direct contact with the MSC-gel construct. To determine the immunophenotype of macrophages, we looked at the expression of cell surface markers CD14, CD16, CD206, and human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR by flow cytometry. MSCs and macrophages cultured on the HA-hydrogel remained viable and were able to be recovered from the construct. There was a significant difference in the immunophenotype observed between monocyte-derived macrophages cultured on the HA scaffold compared to tissue culture polystyrene. Macrophages cultured on gels with MSCs expressed lower CD16 and HLA-DR with higher expression of CD206, indicating the least inflammatory profile overall, compatible with the immunophenotype of alternatively activated macrophages. Development of macrophages, with this immunophenotype, upon interaction with the MSC-hydrogel constructs may play a potentially significant role in tissue repair when using a cellular-biomaterial therapeutic approach. © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.