Student: Jenna Catalano

Project: Characterizing Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Motility in Repsonse to the Wound Environment

View: Research Poster (PDF)

Institution: Lehigh University

Major: Chemical and Bomolecular Engineering

Advisor: Kelly Schultz


Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) provide an opportunity to treat chronic wounds by helping these wounds progress past the inflammatory phase. They perform an important regulatory function in the inflammation stage of wound healing by reducing secretion of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), an inflammatory cytokine, and increasing secretion of interleukin-10 (IL-10) and IL-4,which are anti-inflammatory cytokines. The ability of hMSCs to migrate through the extracellular matrix (ECM) is affected by their secretion of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase (TIMPs). MMPs promote hMSC migration by degrading components of the ECM to form micrometer channels to travel through to reach the wound site. TIMPs inhibit the MMP degradation. Synthetic hydrogel structures with implanted hMSCs are designed to mimic the ECM and are being developed to deliver additional hMSCs to the wound site to assist with healing.  The body releases signals from the wound site during healing, including cytokines TNF-α and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) . TNF-α increases hMSC secretion of MMPs and TGF-β increases secretions of TIMPs. In this work, we incubate hMSC-laden synthetic scaffolds in media with cytokines to model the native environment these materials would experience after implantation in a wound. We also develop models using Michaelis-Menten enzymatic inhibition kinetics to predict how the cytokine TNF-α affects the process of hMSC-mediated remodeling of synthetic hydrogel after implantation.

Jenna Catalano

About Jenna Catalano

Jenna Catalano, is a senior at Lehigh University majoring in Chemical Engineering and minoring in Economics. She began working in the Schultz lab her sophomore year and is currently working on her Senior Thesis, her research is also funded by the Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholarship which is awarded to “highly-motivated” female engineering majors. Besides research, Jenna has also been involved in the Lehigh University Choir and Dolce Women’s Choir all four years at Lehigh. In addition, she is involved in the Engineering College as a Rossin Junior Fellow, works in Wilbur Powerhouse as a Design Lab Tech Fellow, and is part of the Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity where she has held multiple executive positions. After graduation this spring, Jenna will be continuing her education by pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering, hoping to focus on the research topic of either tissue engineering or drug delivery.