Priming human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells for corneal surface regeneration.
Limbal stem cells (LSC) maintain the transparency of the corneal epithelium. Chemical burns lead the loss of LSC inducing an up-regulation of pro-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic factors, triggering corneal neovascularization and blindness. Adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AT-MSC) have shown promise in animal models to treat LSC deficiency (LSCD), but there are not studies showing their efficacy when primed with different media before transplantation. We cultured AT-MSC with standard medium and media used to culture LSC for clinical application. We demonstrated that different media changed the AT-MSC paracrine secretion showing different paracrine effector functions in an in vivo model of chemical burn and in response to a novel in vitro model of corneal inflammation by alkali induction. Treatment of LSCD with AT-MSC changed the angiogenic and inflammatory cytokine profile of mice corneas. AT-MSC cultured with the medium that improved their cytokine secretion, enhanced the anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory profile of the treated corneas. Those corneas also presented better outcome in terms of corneal transparency, neovascularization and histologic reconstruction. Priming human AT-MSC with LSC specific medium can potentiate their ability to improve corneal wound healing, decrease neovascularization and inflammation modulating paracrine effector functions in an in vivo optimized rat model of LSCD.© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.