Immortalization of human adipose-derived stromal cells: Production of cell lines with high growth rate, mesenchymal marker expression and capability to secrete high levels of angiogenic factors

Luigi Balducci, Antonella Blasi, Marilisa Saldarelli, Antonio Soleti, Augusto Pessina, Arianna Bonomi, Valentina Coccè, Marta Dossena, Valentina Tosetti, Valentina Ceserani, Stefania Elena Navone, Maria Laura Falchetti, Eugenio Agostino Parati, Giulio Alessandri

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Introduction. Human adipose-derived stromal cells (hASCs), due to their relative feasibility of isolation and ability to secrete large amounts of angiogenic factors, are being evaluated for regenerative medicine. However, their limited culture life span may represent an obstacle for both preclinical investigation and therapeutic use. To overcome this problem, hASCs immortalization was performed in order to obtain cells with in vitro prolonged life span but still maintain their mesenchymal marker expression and ability to secrete angiogenic factors. Methods. hASCs were transduced with the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene alone or in combination with either SV-40 or HPV E6/E7 genes. Mesenchymal marker expression on immortalized hASCs lines was confirmed by flow cytometry (FC), differentiation potential was evaluated by immunocytochemistry and ELISA kits were used for evaluation of angiogenic factors. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene transduction was used to obtain fluorescent cells. Results: We found that hTERT alone failed to immortalize hASCs (hASCs-T), while hTERT/SV40 (hASCs-TS) or hTERT/HPV E6/E7 (hASCs-TE) co-transductions successfully immortalized cells. Both hASCs-TS and hASCs-TE were cultured for up to one year with a population doubling level (PDL) up to 100. Comparative studies between parental not transduced (hASCs-M) and immortalized cell lines showed that both hASCs-TS and hASCs-TE maintained a mesenchymal phenotypic profile, whereas differentiation properties were reduced particularly in hASCs-TS. Interestingly, hASCs-TS and hASCs-TE showed a capability to secrete significant amount of HGF and VEGF. Furthermore, hASCs-TS and hASCs-TE did not show tumorigenic properties in vitro although some chromosomal aberrations were detected. Finally, hASCs-TS and hASCs-TE lines were stably fluorescent upon transduction with the GFP gene. Conclusions: Here we demonstrated, for the first time, that hASCs, upon immortalization, maintain a strong capacity to secrete potent angiogenic molecules. By combining hASCs immortalization and their paracrine characteristics, we have developed a "hybridoma-like model" of hASCs that could have potential applications for discovering and producing molecules to use in regenerative medicine (process scale-up).In addition, due to the versatility of these fluorescent-immortalized cells, they could be employed in in vivo cell-tracking experiments, expanding their potential use in laboratory practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number63
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 6 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)


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