Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are self-renewing cells with the ability to differentiate into organized, functional network of cells. Recent studies have revealed that activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway by a glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3-specific pharmacological inhibitor, Bio, results in the maintenance of self-renewal in both mouse and human ES cells. The molecular mechanism behind the maintenance of hMSCs by these factors, however, is not fully understood. We found that rEGF enhances the level of β-catenin, a component of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Furthermore, it was found that β-catenin upregulates Nanog. EGF activates the β-catenin pathway via the Ras protein and also increased the Nanog protein and gene expression levels 2 h after rEGF treatment. These results suggest that adding EGF can enhance b-catenin and Nanog expression in MSCs and facilitate EGF-mediated maintenance of MSC self-renewal. EGF was shown to augment MSC proliferation while preserving early progenitors within MSC population and thus did not induce differentiation. Thus, EGF not only can be used to expand MSC in vitro but also be utilized to autologous transplantation of MSCs in vivo.
- Epidermal growth factor (EGF)
- Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs)
- Self-renewing cells