Adipose Stem Cells Incorporated in Fibrin Clot Modulate Expression of Growth Factors

  • Kelsy R. Siegel
    Address correspondence to Kelsy R. Siegel, M.S., Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Biological Sciences II rm 5166, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, U.S.A.
    Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, Neuroscience Research Institute, and Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A.
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  • Tracy N. Clevenger
    Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, Neuroscience Research Institute, and Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A.
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  • Dennis O. Clegg
    Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, Neuroscience Research Institute, and Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A.
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  • Duncan A. Proctor
    Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, Neuroscience Research Institute, and Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A.
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  • Christopher S. Proctor
    Alta Orthopaedics, Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A.
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Published:October 31, 2017DOI:


      To evaluate the platelet capture rate of whole blood fibrin clots and the expression, secretion, and retention of the growth factors vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) from fibrin clots and to determine how these levels may be modulated by allogeneic adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs).


      Whole blood from 10 human volunteers was transferred to a clotting device and the platelet capture rate determined. Two experimental conditions and 1 control were evaluated over 2 weeks in vitro. Clots made from human whole blood without ASCs, clot(−)ASC, were compared with clots with ASCs incorporated, clot(+)ASC, and a control group of synthetic polyethylene glycol gels with ASCs incorporated, control(+)ASCs. All conditions were examined for secretion and retention of VEGF, PDGF, and bFGF via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunohistochemistry. The analysis of platelet retention for clots made with this device was performed.


      Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay analysis showed significantly higher (P < .001) secretion of VEGF in clot(+)ASC compared with clot(−)ASC or control(+)ASC. In contrast, clot(−)ASC produced soluble PDGF, and the addition of ASCs results in decreased soluble PDGF with concomitant increases in PDGF immunoreactivity of ASCs. Soluble bFGF levels were low in clot(−)ASC, and were found to increase at early time points in clot(+)ASC. Furthermore, bFGF immunoreactivity could be detected in clot(+)ASC, whereas no bFGF immunoreactivity is present in clot(−)ASC or control(+)ASC. Control(+)ASC displayed a spike in bFGF secretion at day 0, which may be due to a stress response elicited by the encapsulation process. Approximately 98% of available platelets in whole blood were concentrated in the clot on formation.


      Fibrin clots made by this method retain high concentrations of platelets, and when incorporated with ASCs show modulated secretion and immunoreactivity of VEGF, PDGF, and bFGF.

      Clinical Relevance

      Whole blood fibrin clots capture platelets and release growth factors, and the addition of ASCs increases VEGF release for up to 2 weeks after clot formation. This suggests that whole blood fibrin clots may be a viable scaffold and delivery vehicle for future stem cell treatments.
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