Background and objectives: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have immense therapeutic potential for treating intractable and immune diseases. They also have applications in regenerative medicine in which distinct treatments do not exist. Thus, MSCs are gaining attention as important raw materials in the field of cell therapy. Importantly, the number of MSCs in the bone marrow is limited and they are present only in small quantities. Therefore, mass production of MSCs through long-term culture is necessary to use them in cell therapy. However, MSCs undergo cellular senescence through repeated passages during mass production. In this study, we explored methods to prolong the limited lifetime of MSCs by culturing them with different seeding densities.
Methods and results: We observed that in long-term cultures, low-density (LD, 50 cells/cm2) MSCs showed higher population doubling level, leading to greater fold increase, than high-density (HD, 4,000 cells/cm2) MSCs. LD-MSCs suppressed the expression of aging-related genes. We also showed that reactive oxygen species (ROS) were decreased in LD-MSCs compared to that in HD-MSCs. Further, proliferation potential increased when ROS were inhibited in HD-MSCs.
Conclusions: The results in this study suggest that MSC senescence can be delayed and that life span can be extended by controlling cell density in vitro. These results can be used as important data for the mass production of stem cell therapeutic products.
Keywords: Aging; Low cell density; Mass production; Mesenchymal stem cells; Reactive oxygen species; Senescence.