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This article is the author’s final published version in Redox Biology, Volume 41, May 2021, Article number 101929.

The published version is available at Copyright © Liu et al.

Publication made possible in part by support from the Jefferson Open Access Fund


BACKGROUND: Mesenchymal stem cell therapy improves ischemic heart failure via incompletely understood mechanisms. C1q-TNFα related protein-9 (CTRP9) is a novel anti-oxidative cardiokine capable of improving the local microenvironment and cell survival by its c-terminal active globular domain (gCTRP9). The current study attempted to: 1) identify active gCTRP9 c-terminal polypeptides with stem cell protective function; 2) determine whether a lead polypeptide may enable/enhance cortical bone-derived mesenchymal stem cell (CBSC) cardioprotection against post-myocardial infarction (post-MI) remodeling; and 3) define the responsible underlying cellular/molecular mechanisms.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Utilizing I-TASSER structure prediction and 3-D active site modeling, we cloned and purified 3 gCTRP9 fragments (CTRP9-237, CTRP9-277, and CTRP9-281). Their activation of cell salvage kinase was compared against gCTRP9. Among the three fragments, CTRP9-281 (a 45 residue-containing polypeptide) exerted comparable or greater ERK1/2 activation compared to gCTRP9. Treatment with CTRP9-281 or gCTRP9 significantly increased CBSC proliferation and migration, and attenuated oxidative stress-induced CBSC apoptosis. CTRP9-281 and gCTRP9 comparably upregulated SOD2 and SOD3 expression. However, CTRP9-281, not gCTRP9, upregulated FGF2 and VEGFA expression/secretion in an ERK1/2 dependent manner. Administration of gCTRP9 or CTRP9-281 alone attenuated post-MI cardiac dysfunction and improved CBSC retention in the infarcted heart in similar fashion. However, CTRP9-281 exerted greater synergistic effect with CBSC than gCTRP9 related to pro-angiogenic, anti-fibrotic, and anti-remodeling effects. Mechanistically, CTRP9-281 significantly increased SOD2-rich and VEGFA-rich exosome production by CBSC. Exosomes from CTRP9-281 treated CBSC significantly attenuated oxidative stress-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis in vitro. An exosome generation inhibitor attenuated CTRP9-281 enhancement of CBSC cardioprotection in vivo.

CONCLUSION: We identified a CTRP9 polypeptide that upregulates SOD2/SOD3 expression and improves CBSC survival/retention, similar to gCTRP9. Moreover, CTRP9-281 stimulates VEGFA-rich exosome production by CBSC, exerting superior pro-angiogenic, anti-fibrotic, and cardioprotective actions.

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