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Human Marrow Stromal Cells Enhance Connexin43 Gap Junction Intercellular Communication in Cultured Astrocytes

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Human marrow stromal cells (hMSCs) provide functional benefit in rats subjected to stroke. Astrocytes are coupled into a cellular network via gap junction channels, predominantly composed of connexin-43 (Cx43) proteins. Astrocytes are believed to play a vital role in neuroprotection by providing energy substrates to neurons and by regulating the concentrations of K+ and neurotransmitters via gap junctions. We therefore investigated the effect of factors secreted by hMSCs on gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC), expression of Cx43, and phosphorylation of Cx43 in an astrocyte cell culture system. Exposing rat cortical astrocytes to various concentrations of hMSC conditioned medium, we demonstrate that hMSCs produce soluble factors that significantly increase astrocytic GJIC, measured by the scrape-loading dye transfer method. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot showed increased Cx43 expression concomitant with altered GJIC. As the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway has been demonstrated to alter gap junction expression and GJIC, we selectively blocked phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K). Addition of the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 decreased GJIC and Cx43 expression in astrocytes. These inhibitory effects of LY294002 were countered by the addition of hMSC conditioned media. Furthermore, coculturing hMSCs with rat astrocytes increased astrocyte GJIC in a manner dependent upon the hMSC/astrocyte ratio. These findings demonstrate that hMSCs secrete soluble factors that increase GJIC of astrocytes through upregulation of Cx43, and indicate a mechanistic role for PI3K.

Keywords: Astrocyte; Connexin-43; Gap junction; Human marrow stromal cells; Intercellular communication; Ischemia

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Neurology, Henry Ford Health Sciences Center, Detroit, MI 48202 2: Department of Neurology, Henry Ford Health Sciences Center, Detroit, MI 48202, Department of Physics, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309 3: Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Materia Medica, Beijing 100050, China

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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