Publications by authors named "Chase Pagani"

13 Publications

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High Frequency Spectral Ultrasound Imaging Detects Early Heterotopic Ossification in Rodents.

Stem Cells Dev 2021 May 19;30(9):473-484. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Department of Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a devastating condition in which ectopic bone forms inappropriately in soft tissues following traumatic injuries and orthopedic surgeries as a result of aberrant mesenchymal progenitor cell (MPC) differentiation. HO leads to chronic pain, decreased range of motion, and an overall decrease in quality of life. While several treatments have shown promise in animal models, all must be given during early stages of formation. Methods for early determination of whether and where endochondral ossification/soft tissue mineralization (HO anlagen) develop are lacking. At-risk patients are not identified sufficiently early in the process of MPC differentiation and soft tissue endochondral ossification for potential treatments to be effective. Hence, a critical need exists to develop technologies capable of detecting HO anlagen soon after trauma, when treatments are most effective. In this study, we investigate high frequency spectral ultrasound imaging (SUSI) as a noninvasive strategy to identify HO anlagen at early time points after injury. We show that by determining quantitative parameters based on tissue organization and structure, SUSI identifies HO anlagen as early as 1-week postinjury in a mouse model of burn/tenotomy and 3 days postinjury in a rat model of blast/amputation. We analyze single cell RNA sequencing profiles of the MPCs responsible for HO formation and show that the early tissue changes detected by SUSI match chondrogenic and osteogenic gene expression in this population. SUSI identifies sites of soft tissue endochondral ossification at early stages of HO formation so that effective intervention can be targeted when and where it is needed following trauma-induced injury. Furthermore, we characterize the chondrogenic to osteogenic transition that occurs in the MPCs during HO formation and correlate gene expression to SUSI detection of the HO anlagen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/scd.2021.0011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8106252PMC
May 2021

Novel Lineage-Tracing System to Identify Site-Specific Ectopic Bone Precursor Cells.

Stem Cell Reports 2021 Mar 18;16(3):626-640. Epub 2021 Feb 18.

Center for Organogenesis and Trauma, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern, 6000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75235, USA. Electronic address:

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a form of pathological cell-fate change of mesenchymal stem/precursor cells (MSCs) that occurs following traumatic injury, limiting range of motion in extremities and causing pain. MSCs have been shown to differentiate to form bone; however, their lineage and aberrant processes after trauma are not well understood. Utilizing a well-established mouse HO model and inducible lineage-tracing mouse (Hoxa11-CreER;ROSA26-LSL-TdTomato), we found that Hoxa11-lineage cells represent HO progenitors specifically in the zeugopod. Bioinformatic single-cell transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses showed Hoxa11-lineage cells are regionally restricted mesenchymal cells that, after injury, gain the potential to undergo differentiation toward chondrocytes, osteoblasts, and adipocytes. This study identifies Hoxa11-lineage cells as zeugopod-specific ectopic bone progenitors and elucidates the fate specification and multipotency that mesenchymal cells acquire after injury. Furthermore, this highlights homeobox patterning genes as useful tools to trace region-specific progenitors and enable location-specific gene deletion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stemcr.2021.01.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7940250PMC
March 2021

Mesenchymal VEGFA induces aberrant differentiation in heterotopic ossification.

Bone Res 2019 Dec 10;7(1):36. Epub 2019 Dec 10.

Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA.

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a debilitating condition characterized by the pathologic formation of ectopic bone. HO occurs commonly following orthopedic surgeries, burns, and neurologic injuries. While surgical excision may provide palliation, the procedure is often burdened with significant intra-operative blood loss due to a more robust contribution of blood supply to the pathologic bone than to native bone. Based on these clinical observations, we set out to examine the role of vascular signaling in HO. Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) has previously been shown to be a crucial pro-angiogenic and pro-osteogenic cue during normal bone development and homeostasis. Our findings, using a validated mouse model of HO, demonstrate that HO lesions are highly vascular, and that VEGFA is critical to ectopic bone formation, despite lacking a contribution of endothelial cells within the developing anlagen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41413-019-0075-6DOI Listing
December 2019

The role of neutrophil extracellular traps and TLR signaling in skeletal muscle ischemia reperfusion injury.

FASEB J 2020 12 22;34(12):15753-15770. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Ischemia reperfusion (IR) injury results in devastating skeletal muscle fibrosis. Here, we recapitulate this injury with a mouse model of hindlimb IR injury which leads to skeletal muscle fibrosis. Injury resulted in extensive immune infiltration with robust neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation in the skeletal muscle, however, direct targeting of NETs via the peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PAD4) mechanism was insufficient to reduce muscle fibrosis. Circulating levels of IL-10 and TNFα were significantly elevated post injury, indicating toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling may be involved in muscle injury. Administration of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a small molecule inhibitor of TLR7/8/9, following injury reduced NET formation, IL-10, and TNFα levels and ultimately mitigated muscle fibrosis and improved myofiber regeneration following IR injury. HCQ treatment decreased fibroadipogenic progenitor cell proliferation and partially inhibited ERK1/2 phosphorylation in the injured tissue, suggesting it may act through a combination of TLR7/8/9 and ERK signaling mechanisms. We demonstrate that treatment with FDA-approved HCQ leads to decreased muscle fibrosis and increased myofiber regeneration following IR injury, suggesting short-term HCQ treatment may be a viable treatment to prevent muscle fibrosis in ischemia reperfusion and traumatic extremity injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.202000994RRDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8054227PMC
December 2020

Immobilization after injury alters extracellular matrix and stem cell fate.

J Clin Invest 2020 10;130(10):5444-5460

Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery.

Cells sense the extracellular environment and mechanical stimuli and translate these signals into intracellular responses through mechanotransduction, which alters cell maintenance, proliferation, and differentiation. Here we use a mouse model of trauma-induced heterotopic ossification (HO) to examine how cell-extrinsic forces impact mesenchymal progenitor cell (MPC) fate. After injury, single-cell (sc) RNA sequencing of the injury site reveals an early increase in MPC genes associated with pathways of cell adhesion and ECM-receptor interactions, and MPC trajectories to cartilage and bone. Immunostaining uncovers active mechanotransduction after injury with increased focal adhesion kinase signaling and nuclear translocation of transcriptional coactivator TAZ, inhibition of which mitigates HO. Similarly, joint immobilization decreases mechanotransductive signaling, and completely inhibits HO. Joint immobilization decreases collagen alignment and increases adipogenesis. Further, scRNA sequencing of the HO site after injury with or without immobilization identifies gene signatures in mobile MPCs correlating with osteogenesis, and signatures from immobile MPCs with adipogenesis. scATAC-seq in these same MPCs confirm that in mobile MPCs, chromatin regions around osteogenic genes are open, whereas in immobile MPCs, regions around adipogenic genes are open. Together these data suggest that joint immobilization after injury results in decreased ECM alignment, altered MPC mechanotransduction, and changes in genomic architecture favoring adipogenesis over osteogenesis, resulting in decreased formation of HO.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI136142DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7524473PMC
October 2020

Small molecule inhibition of non-canonical (TAK1-mediated) BMP signaling results in reduced chondrogenic ossification and heterotopic ossification in a rat model of blast-associated combat-related lower limb trauma.

Bone 2020 10 2;139:115517. Epub 2020 Jul 2.

Regenerative Medicine Department, Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, MD, United States of America; Department of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, United States of America. Electronic address:

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is defined as ectopic bone formation around joints and in soft tissues following trauma, particularly blast-related extremity injuries, thermal injuries, central nerve injuries, or orthopaedic surgeries, leading to increased pain and diminished quality of life. Current treatment options include pharmacotherapy with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, radiotherapy, and surgical excision, but these treatments have limited efficacy and have associated complication profiles. In contrast, small molecule inhibitors have been shown to have higher specificity and less systemic cytotoxicity. Previous studies have shown that bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling and downstream non-canonical (SMAD-independent) BMP signaling mediated induction of TGF-β activated kinase-1 (TAK1) contributes to HO. In the current study, small molecule inhibition of TAK1, NG-25, was evaluated for its efficacy in limiting ectopic bone formation following a rat blast-associated lower limb trauma and a murine burn tenotomy injury model. A significant decrease in total HO volume in the rat blast injury model was observed by microCT imaging with no systemic complications following NG-25 therapy. Furthermore, tissue-resident mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs) harvested from rats treated with NG-25 demonstrated decreased proliferation, limited osteogenic differentiation capacity, and reduced gene expression of Tac1, Col10a1, Ibsp, Smad3, and Sox2 (P < 0.05). Single cell RNA-sequencing of murine cells harvested from the injury site in a burn tenotomy injury model showed increased expression of these genes in MPCs during stages of chondrogenic differentiation. Additional in vitro cell cultures of murine tissue-resident MPCs and osteochondrogenic progenitors (OCPs) treated with NG-25 demonstrated reduced chondrogenic differentiation by 10.2-fold (P < 0.001) and 133.3-fold (P < 0.001), respectively, as well as associated reduction in chondrogenic gene expression. Induction of HO in Tak1 knockout mice demonstrated a 7.1-fold (P < 0.001) and 2.7-fold reduction (P < 0.001) in chondrogenic differentiation of murine MPCs and OCPs, respectively, with reduced chondrogenic gene expression. Together, our in vivo models and in vitro cell culture studies demonstrate the importance of TAK1 signaling in chondrogenic differentiation and HO formation and suggest that small molecule inhibition of TAK1 is a promising therapy to limit the formation and progression of HO.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2020.115517DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7945876PMC
October 2020

Activin A does not drive post-traumatic heterotopic ossification.

Bone 2020 09 15;138:115473. Epub 2020 Jun 15.

Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States of America; Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Health System, 1500 E Medical Center Drive, SPC 5340, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5340, United States of America. Electronic address:

Heterotopic ossification (HO), the formation of ectopic bone in soft tissues, has been extensively studied in its two primary forms: post-traumatic HO (tHO) typically found in patients who have experienced musculoskeletal or neurogenic injury and in fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), where it is genetically driven. Given that in both diseases HO arises via endochondral ossification, the molecular mechanisms behind both diseases have been postulated to be manifestations of similar pathways including those activated by BMP/TGFβ superfamily ligands. A significant step towards understanding the molecular mechanism by which HO arises in FOP was the discovery that FOP causing ACVR1 variants trigger HO in response to activin A, a ligand that does not activate signaling from wild type ACVR1, and that is not inherently osteogenic in wild type settings. The physiological significance of this finding was demonstrated by showing that activin A neutralizing antibodies stop HO in two different genetically accurate mouse models of FOP. In order to explore the role of activin A in tHO, we performed single cell RNA sequencing and compared the expression of activin A as well as other BMP pathway genes in tHO and FOP HO. We show that activin A is expressed in response to injury in both settings, but by different types of cells. Given that wild type ACVR1 does not transduce signal when engaged by activin A, we hypothesized that inhibition of activin A will not block tHO. Nonetheless, as activin A was expressed in tHO lesions, we tested its inhibition and compared it with inhibition of BMPs. We show here that anti-activin A does not block tHO, whereas agents such as antibodies that neutralize ACVR1 or ALK3-Fc (which blocks osteogenic BMPs) are beneficial, though not completely curative. These results demonstrate that inhibition of activin A should not be considered as a therapeutic strategy for ameliorating tHO.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2020.115473DOI Listing
September 2020

Endogenous CCN family member WISP1 inhibits trauma-induced heterotopic ossification.

JCI Insight 2020 07 9;5(13). Epub 2020 Jul 9.

Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is defined as abnormal differentiation of local stromal cells of mesenchymal origin, resulting in pathologic cartilage and bone matrix deposition. Cyr61, CTGF, Nov (CCN) family members are matricellular proteins that have diverse regulatory functions on cell proliferation and differentiation, including the regulation of chondrogenesis. However, little is known regarding CCN family member expression or function in HO. Here, a combination of bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing defined the dynamic temporospatial pattern of CCN family member induction within a mouse model of trauma-induced HO. Among CCN family proteins, Wisp1 (also known as Ccn4) was most upregulated during the evolution of HO, and Wisp1 expression corresponded with chondrogenic gene profile. Immunohistochemistry confirmed WISP1 expression across traumatic and genetic HO mouse models as well as in human HO samples. Transgenic Wisp1LacZ/LacZ knockin animals showed an increase in endochondral ossification in HO after trauma. Finally, the transcriptome of Wisp1-null tenocytes revealed enrichment in signaling pathways, such as the STAT3 and PCP signaling pathways, that may explain increased HO in the context of Wisp1 deficiency. In sum, CCN family members, and in particular Wisp1, are spatiotemporally associated with and negatively regulate trauma-induced HO formation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.135432DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7406255PMC
July 2020

Tuning Macrophage Phenotype to Mitigate Skeletal Muscle Fibrosis.

J Immunol 2020 04 11;204(8):2203-2215. Epub 2020 Mar 11.

Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109;

Myeloid cells are critical to the development of fibrosis following muscle injury; however, the mechanism of their role in fibrosis formation remains unclear. In this study, we demonstrate that myeloid cell-derived TGF-β1 signaling is increased in a profibrotic ischemia reperfusion and cardiotoxin muscle injury model. We found that myeloid-specific deletion of abrogates the fibrotic response in this injury model and reduces fibro/adipogenic progenitor cell proliferation while simultaneously enhancing muscle regeneration, which is abrogated by adaptive transfer of normal macrophages. Similarly, a murine TGFBRII-Fc ligand trap administered after injury significantly reduced muscle fibrosis and improved muscle regeneration. This study ultimately demonstrates that infiltrating myeloid cell TGF-β1 is responsible for the development of traumatic muscle fibrosis, and its blockade offers a promising therapeutic target for preventing muscle fibrosis after ischemic injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1900814DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080967PMC
April 2020

Regulation of heterotopic ossification by monocytes in a mouse model of aberrant wound healing.

Nat Commun 2020 02 5;11(1):722. Epub 2020 Feb 5.

Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA.

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is an aberrant regenerative process with ectopic bone induction in response to musculoskeletal trauma, in which mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) differentiate into osteochondrogenic cells instead of myocytes or tenocytes. Despite frequent cases of hospitalized musculoskeletal trauma, the inflammatory responses and cell population dynamics that regulate subsequent wound healing and tissue regeneration are still unclear. Here we examine, using a mouse model of trauma-induced HO, the local microenvironment of the initial post-injury inflammatory response. Single cell transcriptome analyses identify distinct monocyte/macrophage populations at the injury site, with their dynamic changes over time elucidated using trajectory analyses. Mechanistically, transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGFβ1)-producing monocytes/macrophages are associated with HO and aberrant chondrogenic progenitor cell differentiation, while CD47-activating peptides that reduce systemic macrophage TGFβ levels and help ameliorate HO. Our data thus implicate CD47 activation as a therapeutic approach for modulating monocyte/macrophage phenotypes, MSC differentiation and HO formation during wound healing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-14172-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7002453PMC
February 2020

Mesenchymal VEGFA induces aberrant differentiation in heterotopic ossification.

Bone Res 2019 10;7:36. Epub 2019 Dec 10.

1Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA.

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a debilitating condition characterized by the pathologic formation of ectopic bone. HO occurs commonly following orthopedic surgeries, burns, and neurologic injuries. While surgical excision may provide palliation, the procedure is often burdened with significant intra-operative blood loss due to a more robust contribution of blood supply to the pathologic bone than to native bone. Based on these clinical observations, we set out to examine the role of vascular signaling in HO. Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) has previously been shown to be a crucial pro-angiogenic and pro-osteogenic cue during normal bone development and homeostasis. Our findings, using a validated mouse model of HO, demonstrate that HO lesions are highly vascular, and that VEGFA is critical to ectopic bone formation, despite lacking a contribution of endothelial cells within the developing anlagen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41413-019-0075-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6904752PMC
December 2019

Disruption of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) Links Mechanical Strain to Post-traumatic Inflammation.

Front Immunol 2019 24;10:2148. Epub 2019 Oct 24.

Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, United States.

Inflammation after trauma is both critical to normal wound healing and may be highly detrimental when prolonged or unchecked with the potential to impair physiologic healing and promote pathology. Mechanical strain after trauma is associated with impaired wound healing and increased inflammation. The exact mechanisms behind this are not fully elucidated. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), a component of the neutrophil response to trauma, are implicated in a range of pro-inflammatory conditions. In the current study, we evaluated their role in linking movement and inflammation. We found that a link exists between the disruption and amplification of NETs which harbors the potential to regulate the wound's response to mechanical strain, while leaving the initial inflammatory signal necessary for physiologic wound healing intact.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02148DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6821718PMC
October 2020

Investigation into Possible Association of Oxandrolone and Heterotopic Ossification Following Burn Injury.

J Burn Care Res 2019 06;40(4):398-405

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Oxandrolone, a testosterone analog, is used to counteract the catabolic effects of burn injury. Recent animal studies suggest a possible hormonal association with heterotopic ossification (HO) development postburn. This work examines oxandrolone administration and HO development by exploring historical clinical data bridging the introduction of oxandrolone into clinical practice. Additionally, we examine associations between oxandrolone administration and HO in a standardized mouse model of burn/trauma-related HO. Acutely burned adults admitted between 2000 and 2014, survived through discharge, and had a HO risk factor of 7 or higher were selected for analysis from a single burn center. Oxandrolone administration, clinical and demographic data, and elbow HO were recorded and were analyzed with logistic regression. Associations of oxandrolone with HO were examined in a mouse model. Mice were administered oxandrolone or vehicle control following burn/tenotomy to examine any potential effect of oxandrolone on HO and were analyzed by Student's t test. Subjects who received oxandrolone had a higher incidence of elbow HO than those that did not receive oxandrolone. However, when controlling for oxandrolone administration, oxandrolone duration, postburn day oxandrolone initiation, HO risk score category, age, sex, race, burn size, and year of injury, there was no significant difference between rates of elbow HO between the two populations. In agreement with the review, in the mouse model, while there was a trend toward the oxandrolone group developing a greater volume of HO, this did not reach statistical significance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jbcr/irz063DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6587410PMC
June 2019