Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) secrete factors that contribute to organ homeostasis and repair in a tissue specific manner. For instance, kidney perivascular mesenchymal stromal cells (kPSCs) can facilitate renal epithelial repair through secretion of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) while the secretome of bone marrow MSCs gives rise to immunosuppression. Stromal cells function in a complex 3-dimensional (3D) connective tissue architecture that induces conformational adaptation. Here we tested the hypothesis that surface topography and associated cell adaptations dictate stromal cell function through tuning of the cytokines released. To this end, we cultured human bone marrow and kidney perivascular stromal cells in the TopoWell plate, a custom-fabricated multi-well plate containing 76 unique bioactive surface topographies. Using fluorescent imaging, we observed profound changes in cell shape, accompanied by major quantitative changes in the secretory capacity of the MSCs. The cytokine secretion profile was closely related to cell morphology and was stromal cell type specific. Our data demonstrate that stromal cell function is determined by microenvironment structure and can be manipulated in an engineered setting. Our data also have implications for the clinical manufacturing of mesenchymal stromal cell therapy, where surface topography during bioreactor expansion should be taken into account to preserve therapeutic properties.
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