A sub-population of high proliferative potential-quiescent human mesenchymal stem cells is under the reversible control of interferon alpha/beta

Leukemia. 2007 Apr;21(4):714-24. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2404589.


Type I interferon (IFN) is shown to control the reversible quiescence of a primitive human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) subpopulation. A 24 h pre-treatment of Stro1+/GlycoA- or CD45-/GlycoA- subpopulations with a monoclonal antibody (mAb) against the IFNAR1 chain of the human type I IFN receptor (64G12), or with a polyclonal anti-IFNalpha antibody, resulted in a marked increase in the number of very large colonies (CFU-F >3000 cells) obtained in the presence of low, but necessary, concentrations of bFGF. Over a 2-month culture period, this short activation promoted a faster and greater amplification of mesenchymal progenitors for adipocytes and osteoblasts. Activation correlated with inhibition of STAT1 and STAT2 phosphorylation and of STAT1 nuclear translocation. A non-neutralizing anti-IFNAR1 mAb was ineffective. We demonstrate that control and activated MSCs express ST3GAL3, a sialyltransferase necessary to produce the embryonic antigens SSEA-3 and -4. Interestingly, activated MSC progeny expressed SSEA-3 and -4 at a higher level than control cultures, but this was not correlated with a significant expression of other embryonic markers. As MSCs represent an essential tool in tissue regeneration, the use of 64G12, which rapidly recruits a higher number of primitive cells, might increase amplification safety for cell therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • DNA Primers
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interferon-alpha / physiology*
  • Interferon-beta / physiology*
  • Kinetics
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / pharmacology


  • DNA Primers
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Interferon-beta