Stem cell transplantation has emerged as a promising strategy in regenerative medicine. However, the poor survival and persistence of the transplanted cells, including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), in the hostile ischemic microenvironments represents a major therapeutic barrier. Here we report that plasminogen (Plg) stimulated MSC functions and promoted MSC survival during tissue repair after ischemia. Genetic Plg ablation abolished MSC survival, migration, and proliferation in mouse ischemic limbs, and abrogated MSC-mediated blood reperfusion, neovascularization, and tissue repair after ischemia, suggesting a critical role for Plg in MSC-mediated tissue repair. Furthermore, multiplex cytokine array analysis identified that Plg cleaved and activated cysteine-rich protein 61 (Cyr61), an ECM-associated growth factor, to stimulate MSC survival and migration. Overexpression with truncated Cyr61 in MSCs rescued blood reperfusion after hind limb ischemia in Plg-deficient mice. Finally, Plg-mediated Cyr61 cleavage promoted endothelial cell migration and neovascularization in vitro and in vivo. Our study reveals that Plg promotes MSC survival, persistence, and paracrine effects and improves postischemic neovascularization and tissue repair through Cyr61 cleavage and activation. Thus, targeting Plg/Cyr61 may offer exciting therapeutic opportunities for strengthening MSC therapy in ischemic diseases.
Hao Duan, Zhenqiang He, Maohuan Lin, Yanling Wang, Fan Yang, R. Alan Mitteer, Hyun-Jun Kim, Eujing Yeo, Hongyu Han, Ling Qin, Yi Fan, Yanqing Gong