Alginate microcapsules co-embedded with MSCs and anti-EGF mAb for the induction of hair cell-like cells in guinea pigs by taking advantage of host EGF
As the irreversibility of hair cell loss in mammals is among the main reasons giving rise to permanent hearing loss, studies have been focused on the development of biological technologies to generate new hair cells as a means of replacing lost hair cells. Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) possess the capacity to differentiate into hair cell-like cells, and may find applications in the regeneration of mammalian cochlear hair cells. In order to efficiently induce BMSCs into hair cells, alginate microcapsules co-delivering rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (rBMSCs) and anti-EGF monoclonal antibody (mAb) were developed to examine the feasibility of differentiating rBMSC into hair cell-likes cells in vitro and in vivo by taking advantage of epidermal growth factor (EGF) ligands. In vitro analysis showed that anti-EGF mAbs bonded with exogenous EGF ligands activated the EGF receptors on rBMSCs, enhancing the expression of myosin 7a (a hair cell marker) and Notch1 (supporting cell marker) via the EGFR/Ras/Raf/ERK1/2 signal pathway. In in vivo experiments, alginate microcapsules loaded with rBMSCs (2 × 106 cells per microcapsule) together with Iso mAbs or anti-EGF mAbs were grafted into guinea pig cochlea. After 6 weeks of treatment, immunofluorescence analyses indicated that the rBMSCs embedded into anti-EGF microcapsules were more efficiently transformed into hair cells compared with the group with Iso mAb microcapsules and displayed an ordered arrangement in Reissner's membranes. The results highlighted the significance of engineering the microenvironment of stem cells for hair cell differentiation, and particularly the advantage of hair cell differentiation of rBMSCs by recruiting host EGF ligands via tethered mAbs. In conclusion, this strategy of co-embedding rBMSCs and anti-EGF mAb in alginate microcapsules is a promising modality for the regeneration of hair cell-like cells.