Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have demonstrated ability to improve diabetic nephropathy (DN) in experimental models, as well as by improving kidney endogenous progenitor cells proliferation and differentiation. Many studies have demonstrated the effect of hypoxia on MSC improving their functionality but the potential enhancement of the nephroprotective properties of MSC cultured under low oxygen concentration has been explored in few studies, none of them in the context of DN. On the other hand, diabetes is associated with abnormalities in MSCs functionality. These findings related to the hypoxia preconditioning ability to enhance adipose-tissue derived-MSC (ASC) performance have led us to wonder if hypoxia could increase the known beneficial effect of normal ASC in DN and if it could correct the expected inability of diabetic rat-derived ASC to exert this effect in vivo. To answer these questions, in the present study we have used ASC from healthy and diabetic-induced rats, cultured under standard conditions or hypoxia preconditioned, in a DN rat model induced by streptozotocin (STZ).
Diabetes was induced in Wistar-rats by 60 mg/kg streptozotocin (STZ) intraperitoneal injection. Fifteen days thereafter, five diabetic-induced rats and five healthy, previously injected with saline, were sacrificed and used as ASC donors . Both healthy and diabetic rat-derived ASC (cASC and dASC, respectively) were cultured under standard conditions (21%O2)(N) or were subjected to a 48 h conditioning period in hypoxia (3%O2)(H). Thus, four types of cells were generated depending on their origin (healthy or diabetic-induced rats) and the culture conditions(N or H):cASC-N, cASC-H, dASC-N and dASC-H. DN experimental study were carried out fifteen days after STZ induction of diabetes in fifty-two healthy rats. DN-induced-animals were randomly assigned to be injected with 200 µL saline as placebo or with 3 × 106 cASC-N, cASC-H, dASC-N or dASC-H, according to the study group. Serum glucose, urea and creatinine, and urine albumin levels were measured at 2-weeks intervals until day+ 45 after ND-induction.Animals were sacrificed and kidneys extracted for histopathological and transmission electron microcopy analysis RESULTS: None of the four study groups that received cell treatment showed significant changes in serum glucose, urea and creatinine levels, urine albumin concentration and body weight compared to placebo ND-induced group. Interestingly, only the group that received cASC-H showed a reduction in glucose and creatinine levels although it did not reach statistical significance.All DN-induced groups treated with ASC reduced significantly renal lesions such as mesangial expansion, mesangiolysis, microaneurysms and acute tubular necrosis compared to ND-induced placebo group (p ≤ 0.05). Renal injuries such as clear tubular cell changes, thickening of tubular basement membrane, tubular cysts and interstitial fibrosis significantly showed reduction in ND-induced rats treated with cASC-H regarding to their received cASCN (p ≤ 0.05). Non statistical differences were observed in the improvement capacity of cASC and dASC culture under standard condition.However, hypoxia preconditioning reduces the presence of tubular cysts (p ≤ 0.01).
Hypoxia preconditioning enhances the ability of healthy rat-derived ASC to improve kidney injury in a rat model of DN. Moreover, diabetic-derived ASC exhibits a similar ability to healthy ASC which is clearly more than expected, but it is not significantly modified by hypoxia preconditioning.

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