Fibroblasts, the most common connective tissue cells, synthesize the collagen and extracellular matrix, create the structural framework for animal tissues, and play a significant role in the process of wound healing.
This photo shows microscopic imaging of the control (left) and rejuvenated fibroblasts (right), with fluorescent labels highlighting the nucleus (blue), nuclear envelope (green), and cytoskeleton (in magenta). The presence of more contractile proteins (in red) in the rejuvenated fibroblasts indicates that they have recovered their ability to contract. This encouraging discovery from a recent study from the Mechanobiology Institute at NUS holds great potential for applications in regenerative medicine and stem cell engineering. Image Credit: National University of Singapore.
But during the process of cellular aging, fibroblasts lose their potential to contract, resulting in stiffness caused by reduced connective tissues.
Research performed at the Mechanobiology Institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS) demonstrated that if these fibroblasts are geometrically confined on micropatterns, they can be rejuvenated or re-differentiated.
The above image depicts the microscopic imaging of rejuvenated fibroblasts shown on the right and the control on the left, with fluorescent labeling emphasizing the nucleus shown in blue, cytoskeleton in magenta, and nuclear envelope in green.
The presence of a high amount of contractile proteins, shown in red, in the rejuvenated fibroblasts denotes that these cells have recovered their potential to contract. Improved gene expression of the cytoskeleton and reduced DNA damage was observed in these rejuvenated cells.
The study results were initially published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 29th, 2020.
According to the researchers, their mechanical reprogramming technique can resolve the drawbacks of traditional rejuvenation techniques, such as the production of oncogenic or short-lived fibroblasts.
Such mechanically rejuvenated fibroblasts could possibly be employed as clinical implants in the field of stem cell engineering and regenerative medicine.
Roy, B., et al. (2020) Fibroblast rejuvenation by mechanical reprogramming and redifferentiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1911497117.