Three-dimensional culture of mesenchymal stem/stromal cells for spheroid formation is known to enhance their therapeutic potential for regenerative medicine. Spheroids were prepared by culturing humanadipose-derived stem/stromal cells (hASCs) in a non-cross-linked hyaluronic acid (HA) gel and comparedwith dissociated hASCs and hASC spheroids prepared using a nonadherent dish. Preliminary experiments indicated that a 4% HA gel was the most appropriate for forming hASC spheroids with a relatively consistent size (20–50 mm) within 48 hours. Prepared spheroids were positive for pluripotency markers (NANOG, OCT3/4, and SOX-2), and 40% of the cells were SSEA-3-positive, amarker of the multilineage differentiating stress enduring or Muse cell. In contrast with dissociated ASCs, increased secretion of cytokines such as hepatocyte growth factor was detected in ASC spheroids cultured under hypoxia. On microarray ASC spheroids showed upregulation of some pluripotency markers and downregulation of genes related to the mitotic cell cycle. After ischemia-reperfusion injury to the fat pad in SCID mice, local injection of hASC spheroids promoted tissue repair and reduced the final atrophy (1.6%) compared with that of dissociated hASCs (14.3%) or phosphate-buffered saline (20.3%). Part of the administered hASCs differentiated into vascular endothelial cells. ASC spheroids prepared in a HA gel contain undifferentiated cells with therapeutic potential to promote angiogenesis and tissue regeneration after damage.
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