Promoting 3-D Aggregation of FACS Purified Thymic Epithelial Cells with EAK 16-II/EAKIIH6 Self-assembling Hydrogel



Document Type

Journal Article

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Publication Title

Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE




Thymus involution, associated with aging or pathological insults, results in diminished output of mature T-cells. Restoring the function of a failing thymus is crucial to maintain effective T cell-mediated acquired immune response against invading pathogens. However, thymus regeneration and revitalization proved to be challenging, largely due to the difficulties of reproducing the unique 3D microenvironment of the thymic stroma that is critical for the survival and function of thymic epithelial cells (TECs). We developed a novel hydrogel system to promote the formation of TEC aggregates, based on the self-assembling property of the amphiphilic EAK16-II oligopeptides and its histidinylated analogue EAKIIH6. TECs were enriched from isolated thymic cells with density-gradient, sorted with fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), and labeled with anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) antibodies that were anchored, together with anti-His IgGs, on the protein A/G adaptor complexes. Formation of cell aggregates was promoted by incubating TECs with EAKIIH6 and EAK16-II oligopeptides, and then by increasing the ionic concentration of the medium to initiate gelation. TEC aggregates embedded in EAK hydrogel can effectively promote the development of functional T cells in vivo when transplanted into the athymic nude mice.

Open Access