Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Differentiated fibrocytes assume a functional mesenchymal phenotype with regenerative potential

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Science Advances  08 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaav7384
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav7384

Abstract

Fibrocytes (FCs) are hematopoietic lineage cells that migrate to sites of injury, transition to a mesenchymal phenotype, and help to mediate wound repair. Despite their relevance to human fibrotic disorders, there are few data characterizing basic FC biology. Herein, using proteomic, bioenergetic, and bioengineering techniques, we conducted deep phenotypic characterization of differentiating and mature FCs. Differentiation was associated with metabolic reprogramming that favored oxidative phosphorylation. Mature FCs had distinct proteomes compared to classic mesenchymal cells, formed functional stromae that supported epithelial maturation during in vitro organotypic culture, and exhibited in vivo survival and self-tolerance as connective tissue isografts. In an in vitro scratch assay, FCs promoted fibroblast migration and wound closure by paracrine signaling via the chemokine CXCL8 (interleukin-8). These findings characterize important aspects of FC differentiation and show that, in addition to their role in wound healing, FCs hold potential as an easily isolated autologous cell source for regenerative medicine.

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