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Human Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Engineered to Express Collagen VII Can Restore Anchoring Fibrils in Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Skin Graft Chimeras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Anastasia Petrova, Christos Georgiadis, Roland A. Fleck, Leanne Allison, John A. McGrath, Francesco Dazzi, Wei Li Di, Waseem Qasim

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-131.e6
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


Recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) is a debilitating genodermatosis caused by loss-of-function mutations in COL7A1 encoding type VII collagen (C7), the main component of anchoring fibrils at the dermal–epidermal junction. With no curative treatments presently available, retrovirally transduced autologous epidermal grafts and intradermal lentivirally engineered fibroblast injections are being investigated. Alternative approaches aim to infuse allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) to provide a more generalized treatment for RDEB. We investigated whether healthy human MSCs could be engineered to overexpress C7 and correct RDEB in a human:murine chimeric model. Initially, engineered MSCs incorporated ex vivo into RDEB grafts, their presence confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization, revealed recovery of function of the dermal–epidermal junction with no signs of blister formation. Importantly, the detection of anchoring fibrils by transmission electron microscopy corroborated structural recovery. Next, MSCs cotransduced to express C7 and luciferase were delivered intradermally into grafted RDEB skin, resulting in localized MSC persistence with deposition of de novo C7 at the site. Notably, C7 expression was sufficient to restore anchoring fibril density to normal levels. In contrast, intravenously injected engineered MSCs were undetectable within grafts and lacked anchoring fibril reconstitution. Our data suggest that although localized correction may be achievable using engineered MSCs, strategies for systemic administration require further modeling.

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