Proteomic characterisation reveals active Wnt-signalling by human multipotent stromal cells as a key regulator of beta cell survival and proliferation

Diabetologia. 2017 Oct;60(10):1987-1998. doi: 10.1007/s00125-017-4355-7. Epub 2017 Jul 14.


Aims/hypothesis: Novel strategies to stimulate the expansion of beta cell mass in situ are warranted for diabetes therapy. The aim of this study was to elucidate the secretome of human bone marrow (BM)-derived multipotent stromal cells (MSCs) with documented islet regenerative paracrine function. We hypothesised that regenerative MSCs will secrete a unique combination of protein factors that augment islet regeneration.

Methods: Human BM-derived MSCs were examined for glucose-lowering capacity after transplantation into streptozotocin-treated NOD/severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice and segregated into samples with regenerative (MSCR) vs nonregenerative (MSCNR) capacity. Secreted proteins associated with islet regenerative function were identified using stable isotope labelling with amino acids in cell culture (SILAC)-based quantitative proteomics. To functionally validate the importance of active Wnt signalling, we stimulated the Wnt-signalling pathway in MSCNR samples during ex vivo expansion using glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) inhibition (CHIR99201), and the conditioned culture media (CM) generated was tested for the capacity to support cultured human islet cell survival and proliferation in vitro.

Results: MSCR showed increased secretion of proteins associated with cell growth, matrix remodelling, immunosuppressive and proangiogenic properties. In contrast, MSCNR uniquely secreted proteins known to promote inflammation and negatively regulate angiogenesis. Most notably, MSCR maintained Wnt signalling via Wnt5A/B (~2.5-fold increase) autocrine activity during ex vivo culture, while MSCNR repressed Wnt signalling via Dickkopf-related protein (DKK)1 (~2.5-fold increase) and DKK3 secretion. Inhibition of GSK3 activity in MSCNR samples increased the accumulation of nuclear β-catenin and generated CM that augmented beta cell survival (13% increases) and proliferation when exposed to cultured human islets.

Conclusions/interpretation: Maintenance of active Wnt signalling within human MSCs promotes the secretion of matricellular and proangiogenic proteins that formulate a niche for islet regeneration.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Diabetes; Inflammation; Islets; Mass spectrometry; Multipotent stromal cells; Proteomics; Wnt signalling.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Cell Survival / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Proteomics
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology*