Effects of Gene Delivery Approaches on Differentiation Potential and Gene Function of Mesenchymal Stem Cells

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5 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-95
Journal / PublicationIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number1
Online published8 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


Introduction of a gene to mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is a well-known strategy to purposely manipulate the cell fate and further enhance therapeutic performance in cell-based therapy. Viral and chemical approaches for gene delivery interfere with differentiation potential. Although microinjection as a physical delivery method is commonly used for transfection, its influence on MSC cell fate is not fully understood. The current study aimed to evaluate the effects of four nonviral gene delivery methods on stem cell multi-potency. The four delivery methods are robotic microinjection, polyethylenimine (PEI), cationic liposome (cLipo), and calcium phosphate nanoparticles (CaP). Among the four methods, microinjection has exhibited the highest transfection efficiency of ~60%, while the three others showed lower efficiency of 10-25%. Robotic microinjection preserved fibroblast-like cell morphology, stress fibre intactness, and mature focal adhesion complex, while PEI caused severe cytotoxicity. No marked differentiation bias was observed after microinjection and cLipo treatment. By contrast, CaP-treated MSCs exhibited excessive osteogenesis, while PEI-treated MSCs showed excessive adipogenesis. Robotic microinjection system was used to inject the CRISPR/Cas9-encoding plasmid to knock out PPARγ gene in MSCs, and the robotic microinjection did not interfere with PPARγ function in differentiation commitment. Meanwhile, the bias in osteo-adipogenic differentiation exhibited in CaP and PEI-treated MSCs after PPARγ knockout via chemical carriers. Our results indicate that gene delivery vehicles variously disturb MSCs differentiation and interfere with exogenous gene function. Our findings further suggest that robotic microinjection offers a promise of generating genetically modified MSCs without disrupting stem cell multi-potency and therapeutic gene function.

Research Area(s)

  • Chemicals, Differentiation potential, DNA, gene delivery, knockout, Microinjection, Microscopy, Morphology, MSC, robotic microinjection, Robots, Stem cells