Accelerated adipogenic differentiation of hMSCs in a microfluidic shear stimulation platform

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The use of transplanted adipose tissue to repair crucial defects is clinically interesting for surgical reconstruction. Terminally differentiated adipocytes are utilized to promote the healthy regeneration of defective tissue. Use of differentiated mesenchymal stem cells, capable of differentiation into adipocytes, is advantageous because of their regenerative properties. Conventionally, the differentiation of hMSCs toward adipocytes occurs through chemical stimulation. We designed a microfluidic system, consisting of plastic tubing and a syringe pump, to create an environment of shear to accelerate this differentiation process. This system employed a flow rate equivalent to the accelerated flow rates found within the arterial system in order to promote and activate intracellular and extracellular proteins associated with the adipogenic lineage. Confirmation of sustained viability following shear exposure was obtained using a fluorescent live-dead assay. Visualization of intracellular lipid accumulation was achieved via Oil Red O staining. When placed into culture, shear stimulated hMSCs were further induced toward brown adipose tissue, as evidenced by a greater quantity of lipid triglycerides, relative to unstimulated hMSCs. qRT-PCR analysis validated the phenotypic changes observed when the hMSCs were later cultured in adipogenic differentiation media. Additionally, increased fold change for adipogenic markers such as LPL1, CFL1, and SSP1 were observed as a result of shear stimulation. The significance of this work lies in the demonstration that transient fluid shear exposure of hMSCs in suspension can influence differentiation into adipocytes.

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