Adult Rat Bone Marrow-Derived Stem Cells Promote Late Fetal Type II Cell Differentiation in a Co-Culture Model

AB Knoll 1, 2, T Brockmeyer1, 2, R Chevalier 2, 3, K Zscheppang1, 2, HC Nielsen2, 4, CE Dammann*, 1, 2, 4
1 Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
2 Division of Newborn Medicine, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
3 West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV, USA
4 Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University Boston, MA, USA

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© Knoll et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Division of Newborn Medicine, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, 800 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111, USA; Tel: (617) 636-8738; Fax: (617) 636-4233; E-mail:


Bronchopulmonary dysplasia develops in preterm infants due to a combination of lung immaturity and lung injury. Cultured pluripotent bone marrow stem cells (BMSC) are known to reduce injury and induce repair in adult and in immature lungs, possibly through paracrine secretion of soluble factors. The paracrine relationship between BMSC and primary fetal lung epithelial type II cells is unknown. We determined the effects of BMSC on type II cell and fibroblast behavior using an in vitro co-culture model. Rat BMSC were isolated and co-cultured with primary fetal E21 rat type II cells or lung fibroblasts in a Transwell® system without direct cell contact. Effects of BMSC conditioned media (CM) on type II cell and fibroblast proliferation and on type II cell surfactant phospholipid (DSPC) synthesis and mRNA expression of surfactant proteins B and C (sftpb and sftpc) were studied. We also determined the effect of fibroblast and type II cell CM on BMSC proliferation and surface marker expression. Co-culture with BMSC significantly decreased type II cell and fibroblast proliferation to 72.5% and 83.7% of controls, respectively. Type II cell DSPC synthesis was significantly increased by 21% and sftpb and sftpc mRNA expressions were significantly induced (2.1 fold and 2.4 fold, respectively). BMSC proliferation was significantly reduced during the co-culture. Flow cytometry confirmed that BMSC retained the expression of undifferentiated stem cell markers despite their exposure to fetal lung cell CM. We conclude that BMSC induce fetal type II cell differentiation through paracrine release of soluble factors. These studies provide clues for how BMSC may act in promoting alveolar repair following injury.

Keywords: Lung development, surfactant, proliferation, co-culture, lung fibroblasts..