Zhang, Qunzhou

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Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    Harnessing 3D collagen hydrogel-directed conversion of human GMSCs into SCP-like cells to generate functionalized nerve conduits
    (2021-12-01) Zhang, Qunzhou; Nguyen, Phuong; Burrell, Justin C; Zeng, Jincheng; Shi, Shihong; Shanti, Rabie M.; Kulischak, Grace; Le, Anh D; Cullen, D Kacy
    Achieving a satisfactory functional recovery after severe peripheral nerve injuries (PNI) remains one of the major clinical challenges despite advances in microsurgical techniques. Nerve autografting is currently the gold standard for the treatment of PNI, but there exist several major limitations. Accumulating evidence has shown that various types of nerve guidance conduits (NGCs) combined with post-natal stem cells as the supportive cells may represent a promising alternative to nerve autografts. In this study, gingiva-derived mesenchymal stem cells (GMSCs) under 3D-culture in soft collagen hydrogel showed significantly increased expression of a panel of genes related to development/differentiation of neural crest stem-like cells (NCSC) and/or Schwann cell precursor-like (SCP) cells and associated with NOTCH3 signaling pathway activation as compared to their 2D-cultured counterparts. The upregulation of NCSC-related genes induced by 3D-collagen hydrogel was abrogated by the presence of a specific NOTCH inhibitor. Further study showed that GMSCs encapsulated in 3D-collagen hydrogel were capable of transmigrating into multilayered extracellular matrix (ECM) wall of natural NGCs and integrating well with the aligned matrix structure, thus leading to biofabrication of functionalized NGCs. In vivo, implantation of functionalized NGCs laden with GMSC-derived NCSC/SCP-like cells (designated as GiSCs), significantly improved the functional recovery and axonal regeneration in the segmental facial nerve defect model in rats. Together, our study has identified an approach for rapid biofabrication of functionalized NGCs through harnessing 3D collagen hydrogel-directed conversion of GMSCs into GiSCs. © 2021, The Author(s).
  • Publication
    Mesenchymal Stromal Cell-Derived Interleukin-6 Promotes Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition and Acquisition of Epithelial Stem-Like Cell Properties in Ameloblastoma Epithelial Cells
    (2017-09-01) Zhang, Qunzhou; Jiang, jChunmiao; Shanti, Rabie M; Shi, Shihong; Chang, Ting-Han; Carrasco, Lee; Le, Anh D; Alawi, Faizan
    pithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), a biological process associated with cancer stem-like or cancer-initiating cell formation, contributes to the invasiveness, metastasis, drug resistance, and recurrence of the malignant tumors; it remains to be determined whether similar processes contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of ameloblastoma (AM), a benign but locally invasive odontogenic neoplasm. Here, we demonstrated that EMT- and stem cell-related genes were expressed in the epithelial islands of the most common histologic variant subtype, the follicular AM. Our results revealed elevated interleukin (IL)-6 signals that were differentially expressed in the stromal compartment of the follicular AM. To explore the stromal effect on tumor pathogenesis, we isolated and characterized both mesenchymal stromal cells (AM-MSCs) and epithelial cells (AM-EpiCs) from follicular AM and demonstrated that, in in vitro culture, AM-MSCs secreted a significantly higher level of IL-6 as compared to the counterpart AM-EpiCs. Furthermore, both in vitro and in vivo studies revealed that exogenous and AM-MSC-derived IL-6 induced the expression of EMT- and stem cell-related genes in AM-EpiCs, whereas such effects were significantly abrogated either by a specific inhibitor of STAT3 or ERK1/2, or by knockdown of Slug gene expression. These findings suggest that AM-MSC-derived IL-6 promotes tumor-stem like cell formation by inducing EMT process in AM-EpiCs through STAT3 and ERK1/2-mediated signaling pathways, implying a role in the etiology and progression of the benign but locally invasive neoplasm. Stem Cells 2017;35:2083–2094. © 2017 AlphaMed Press
  • Publication
    LGR5+ epithelial tumor stem-like cells generate a 3D-organoid model for ameloblastoma
    (2020-05-01) Chang, Ting-Han; Shanti, Rabie M; Liang, Yanfang; Zeng, Jincheng; Shi, Shihong; Alawi, Faizan; Zhang, Qunzhou; Carrasco, Lee; Le, Ahn D
    Ameloblastoma (AM) is a benign but locally aggressive tumor with high recurrences. Currently, underlying pathophysiology remains elusive, and radical surgery remains the most definitive treatment with severe morbidities. We have recently reported that AM harbors a subpopulation of tumor epithelial stem-like cells (AM-EpiSCs). Herein, we explored whether LGR5+ epithelial cells in AM possess stem-like cell properties and their potential contribution to pathogenesis and recurrence of AM. We found that LGR5 and stem cell-related genes were co-expressed in a subpopulation of AM epithelial cells both in vivo and in vitro, which were enriched under 3D-spheroid culture. As compared to LGR5− counterparts, LGR5+ AM epithelial cells showed increased expression of various EMT- and stemness-related genes, and functionally, exhibited increased capacity to form 3D-spheroids and generate human tumor 3D organoids, which recapitulated the histopathologic features of distinct subtypes of solid AM, thus, contributing a useful human tumor platform for targeted therapeutic screening. Treatment with a selective BRAFV600E inhibitor, vemurafenib, unexpectedly enriched the subpopulation of LGR5+ AM-EpiSCs in tumor 3D organoids, which may have explained therapeutic resistances and recurrences. These findings suggest that LGR5+ AM-EpiSCs play a pivotal role in pathogenesis and progression of AM and targeted inhibition of both BRAF and LGR5 potentially serves a novel nonsurgical adjuvant therapeutic approach for this aggressively benign jaw tumor. © 2020, The Author(s).