The angiogenic related functions of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells are promoted by CBDL rat serum via the Akt/Nrf2 pathway

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Abstract

Hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a complication of severe liver disease. It is characterized by an arterial oxygenation defect. Recent studies have demonstrated that pulmonary angiogenesis contributes to the abnormal gas exchange found in HPS. Additionally, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are considered the stable source of VEGF-producing cells and have the potential to differentiate into multiple cell types. However, it has not been determined whether bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) are mobilized and involved in the pulmonary angiogenesis in HPS. In this study, a CFU-F assay showed that the number of peripheral blood MSCs was increased in common bile duct ligation (CBDL) rats; however, there was no significant difference found in the number of BM-MSCs. In vitro, CBDL rat serum induced the overexpression of CXCR4 and PCNA in BM-MSCs. Consistently, the directional migration as well as the proliferation ability of BM-MSCs were enhanced by CBDL rat serum, as determined by a transwell migration and MTT assays. Moreover, the secretion of VEGF by BM-MSCs increased after treatment with CBDL rat serum. We also found that the expression of phospho-Akt, phospho-ERK, and Nrf2 in BM-MSCs was significantly up-regulated by CBDL rat serum in a time dependent manner, and the blockage of the Akt/Nrf2 signalling pathway with an Akt Inhibitor or Nrf2 siRNA, instead of an ERK inhibitor, attenuated the migration, proliferation and paracrine capacity of BM-MSCs. In conclusion, these findings indicated that the number of MSCs increased in the peripheral blood of CBDL rats, and the Akt/Nrf2 pathway plays a vital role in promoting the angiogenic related functions of BM-MSCs, which could be a potent contributor to pulmonary angiogenesis in HPS.

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