1. Institute of Rocket Force Medicine, State Key Laboratory of Trauma, Burns and Combined Injury, Army Medical University, Chongqing, 400038, China
2. College of Basic Medical Sciences, Army Medical University, 400038 Chongqing, China.
3. Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital Shanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Medicine, Shanghai, 200011, China
4. Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, 100853, China
Rationale: Fibroblasts, the predominant cell type responsible for tissue fibrosis, are heterogeneous, and the targeting of unique fibrogenic population of fibroblasts is highly expected. Very recently, elevated glycolysis is demonstrated to play a pivotal role in the determination of fibrogenic phenotype of fibroblasts. However, it is lack of specific strategies for targeting and elimination of such fibrogenic populations. In this study, a novel strategy to use the a near-infrared (NIR) dye IR-780 for the targeting and elimination of a fibrogenic population of glycolytic fibroblasts to control the cutaneous scarring is developed.
Methods: The identification and cell properties test of fibrogenic fibroblasts with IR-780 were conducted by using fluorescence activated cell sorting, transplantation experiments, in vivo imaging, RNA sequencing in human cell experiments and mouse and rat wound models. The uptake of IR-780 in fibroblasts mediated by HIF-1α/SLCO2A1 and the metabolic properties of IR-780H fibroblasts were investigated using RNA interference or signaling inhibitors. The fibrogenic fibroblast-selective near-infrared phototherapy of IR-780 were evaluated in human cell experiments and mouse wound models.
Results: IR-780 is demonstrated to recognize a unique glycolytic fibroblast lineage, which is responsible for the bulk of connective tissue deposition during cutaneous wound healing and cancer stroma formation. Further results identified that SLCO2A1 is involved in the preferential uptake of IR-780 in fibrogenic fibroblasts, which is regulated by HIF-1α. Moreover, with intrinsic dual phototherapeutic activities, IR-780 significantly diminishes cutaneous scarring through the targeted ablation of the fibrogenic population by photothermal and photodynamic effects.
Conclusion: This work provides a unique strategy for the targeted control of tissue scarring by fibrogenic fibroblast-selective near-infrared phototherapy. It is proposed that IR-780 based theranostic methodology holds promise for translational medicine aimed at regulation of fibrogenic behavior.
Keywords: fibroblasts, scarring, phototherapy