Background: Many investigations have reported that mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) transplantation can ameliorate the structure and function of injured tissues. The purpose of this study was to explore the therapeutic potency of MSC transplantation for chemotherapy-induced ovarian damage.
Methods: MSC were isolated and cultured in vitro. The cytokines, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), were detected in the MSC cultures using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Phosphoramide mustard (PM) was added to the media of granulosa cells (GC) cultured alone or co-cultured with MSC. GC apoptosis was assayed by Annexin-V and DNA fragmentation analysis. Chemotherapy-induced ovarian damage was induced in rats by intraperitoneal injection of cyclophosphamide (CTX). After the injection, MSC labeled with green fluorescent protein (GFP) were transplanted directly into bilateral ovaries. The rats were killed at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks after transplantation. Ovarian function was evaluated by estrous cycle changes and sexual hormone levels. The follicle number was counted, and GC apoptosis was analyzed by TUNEL. The expressions of Bcl-2 and Bax proteins were detected by Western blotting.
Results: MSC released VEGF, HGF and IGF-1 in vitro. The GC apoptosis was diminished by co-culture with MSC, which also resulted in increased Bcl-2 expression. The ovarian function of the rats exposed to CTX injection was improved after MSC transplantation. MSC reduced apoptosis of GC and induced up-regulation of Bcl-2 in vivo.
Discussion: MSC transplantation can improve ovarian function and structure damaged by chemotherapy. The paracrine mediators secreted by MSC might be involved in the repair of damaged ovaries.