Life cycle limitation hampers the production of high amounts of primary human mesenchymal stroma-/stem-like cells (MSC) and limits cell source reproducibility for clinical applications. The characterization of permanently growing MSC544 revealed some differentiation capacity and the simultaneous presence of known MSC markers CD73, CD90, and CD105 even after continuous long-term culture for more than one year and 32 passages. The expression of CD13, CD29, CD44, and CD166 were identified as further surface proteins, all of which were also simultaneously detectable in various other types of primary MSC populations derived from the umbilical cord, bone marrow, and placenta suggesting MSC-like properties in the cell line. Proliferating steady state MSC544 exhibited immune-modulatory activity similar to a subpopulation of long-term growth-inhibited MSC544 after 189d of continuous culture in confluency. This confluent connective cell layer with fibroblast-like morphology can spontaneously contract and the generated space is subsequently occupied by new cells with regained proliferative capacity. Accordingly, the confluent and senescence-associated beta-galactosidase-positive MSC544 culture with about 95% G0/G1 growth-arrest resumed re-entry into the proliferative cell cycle within 3d after sub-confluent culture. The MSC544 cells remained viable during confluency and throughout this transition which was accompanied by marked changes in the release of proteins. Thus, expression of proliferation-associated genes was down-modulated in confluent MSC544 and re-expressed following sub-confluent conditions whilst telomerase (hTERT) transcripts remained detectable at similar levels in both, confluent growth-arrested and proliferating MSC544. Together with the capability of connective cell layer formation for potential therapeutic approaches, MSC544 provide a long term reproducible human cell source with constant properties.
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