The in vitro migration capacity of human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells: comparison of chemokine and growth factor chemotactic activities

Stem Cells. 2007 Jul;25(7):1737-45. doi: 10.1634/stemcells.2007-0054. Epub 2007 Mar 29.


Adult bone marrow (BM)-derived stem cells, including hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and MSCs, represent an important source of cells for the repair of a number of damaged tissues. In contrast to HSCs, the soluble factors able to induce MSC migration have not been extensively studied. In the present work, we compared the in vitro migration capacity of human BM-derived MSCs, preincubated or not with the inflammatory cytokines interleukin 1beta (IL1beta) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha), in response to 16 growth factors (GFs) and chemokines. We show that BM MSCs migrate in response to many chemotactic factors. The GFs platelet-derived growth factor-AB (PDGF-AB) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are the most potent, whereas the chemokines RANTES, macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC), and stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) have limited effect. Remarkably, preincubation with TNFalpha leads to increased MSC migration toward chemokines, whereas migration toward most GFs is unchanged. Consistent with these results, BM MSCs express the tyrosine kinase receptors PDGF-receptor (R) alpha, PDGF-Rbeta, and IGF-R, as well as the RANTES and MDC receptors CCR2, CCR3, and CCR4 and the SDF-1 receptor CXCR4. TNFalpha increases CCR2, CCR3, and CCR4 expression (as opposed to that of CXCR4), together with RANTES membrane binding. These data indicate that the migration capacity of BM MSCs is under the control of a large range of receptor tyrosine kinase GFs and CC and CXC chemokines. Most chemokines are more effective on TNFalpha-primed cells. Our results suggest that the mobilization of MSCs and their subsequent homing to injured tissues may depend on the systemic and local inflammatory state. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokines / genetics
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Chemokines / pharmacology*
  • Chemotaxis / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Peptide Hydrolases / genetics
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Chemokines
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Peptide Hydrolases