Adenoviral vector encoding soluble Flt-1 engineered human endometrial mesenchymal stem cells effectively regress endometriotic lesions in NOD/SCID mice

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This study was undertaken to study the efficiency of Adsflt-1 engineered human eutopic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) secreting anti-angiogenic sFlt-1 as a targeted cell-based therapy for endometriosis (EM). Eutopic MSCs were transduced with Adsflt-1/AdV0 viral vectors and were evaluated for expression and secretion of sFlt-1. EM was created in NOD/SCID mice using subcutaneous implantation techniques. Four doses of 106 MSC-Adsflt-1/MSC-AdV0 were administered to the model and therapeutic anti-angiogenic ability was analyzed by lesion size measurement, microvessel density, immunohistochemistry and real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR analysis. Approximately 86% of transduced MSCs expressed and secreted sFlt-1. MSC-Adsflt-1-treated animals exhibited significant reduction (52.8 ± 1.8%) in size of endometriotic lesions. We observed a 2.3-fold decrease in the number and a 10-fold decrease in the size of endometrial glands in MSC-Adsflt-1-treated animals. A two-fold decrease in stromal cell densities was also observed in MSC-Adsflt-1-treated animals compared with the MSC-AdV0 group. Specific positive immunostaining for MSC marker, CD146 and sFlt-1 in the lesion sites of the MSC-Adsflt-1 group suggests possible homing of transduced MSCs, their survival and secretion of sFlt-1 at the target sites. A marked reduction in size of microvessels and microvessel density within endometriotic lesions and surrounding host subcutaneous layers was observed in MSC-Adsflt-1 group along with significantly downregulated expression of transcripts for vascular endothelial growth factor, fetal liver kinase 1 and matrix metalloproteinases (2 and 9). Our findings indicate the efficacy of a novel eutopic MSC-Adsflt-1 therapy in EM study models. Evaluating long-term effects of genetically modified MSCs in vivo is essential in translating MSC-Adsflt-1 therapy to the clinics.

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