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Amanda M de Mestre, David Hanlon, A Paige Adams, Erin Runcan, Jane C Leadbeater, Hollis N Erb, Christina C Costa, Donald Miller, W R Allen, and Douglas F Antczak

The invasive and fully antigenic trophoblast of the chorionic girdle portion of the equine fetal membranes has the capacity to survive and differentiate after transplantation to ectopic sites. The objectives of this study were to determine i) the survival time of ectopically transplanted allogeneic trophoblast cells in non-pregnant recipient mares, ii) whether equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) can be delivered systemically by transplanted chorionic girdle cells, and iii) whether eCG delivered by the transplanted cells is biologically active and can suppress behavioral signs associated with estrus. Ectopically transplanted chorionic girdle survived for up to 105 days with a mean lifespan of 75 days (95% confidence interval 55–94) and secreted sufficient eCG for the hormone to be measurable in the recipients’ circulation. Immunohistochemical labeling of serial biopsies of the transplant sites and measurement of eCG profiles demonstrated that graft survival was similar to the lifespan of equine endometrial cups in normal horse pregnancy. The eCG secreted by the transplanted cells induced corpora lutea formation and sustained systemic progesterone levels in the recipient mares, effects that are also observed during pregnancy. This in turn caused suppression of estrus behavior in the recipients for up to 3 months. Thus, ectopically transplanted equine trophoblast provides an unusual example of sustained viability and function of an immunogenic transplant in a recipient with an intact immune system. This model highlights the importance of innate immunoregulatory capabilities of invasive trophoblast cells and describes a new method to deliver sustained circulating concentrations of eCG in non-pregnant mares.

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Zoe Tasma, Weilin Hou, Tanvi Damani, Kathleen Seddon, Matthew Kang, Yi Ge, David Hanlon, Fiona Hollinshead, Colin L Hisey, and Lawrence W Chamley

In brief

Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) have shown promise as off-the-shelf therapeutics; however, producing them in sufficient quantities can be challenging. In this study, MSCs were isolated from preimplantation equine embryos and used to produce EVs in two commercially available bioreactor designs.

Abstract

Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have recently been explored for their potential use as therapeutics in human and veterinary medicine applications, such as the treatment of endometrial inflammation and infertility. Allogeneic MSC-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) may also provide therapeutic benefits with advantage of being an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution, provided they can be produced in large enough quantities, without contamination from bovine EVs contained in fetal bovine serum that is a common component of cell culture media. Toward this aim, we demonstrated the successful isolation and characterization of equine MSCs from preimplantation embryos. We also demonstrate that many of these lines can be propagated long-term in culture while retaining their differentiation potential and conducted a head-to-head comparison of two bioreactor systems for scalable EV production including in serum-free conditions. Based on our findings, the CELLine AD 1000 flasks enabled higher cell density cultures and significantly more EV production than the FiberCell system or conventional culture flasks. These findings will enable future isolation of equine MSCs and the scalable culture of their EVs for a wide range of applications in this rapidly growing field.