Human fibroblasts share immunosuppressive properties with bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells

J Clin Immunol. 2010 Jul;30(4):607-19. doi: 10.1007/s10875-010-9415-4. Epub 2010 Apr 20.


Introduction: Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) and adipose tissue-derived stem cells share immunosuppressive capacities, suggesting that the latter could be a general property of stromal cells.

Methods: To check this hypothesis, we compared human BM-MSC and fibroblasts for their in vitro multi-potentiality, expandability and their immunomodulatory properties under normalized optimized culture conditions.

Results: We report that, unlike BM-MSCs, fibroblasts cannot differentiate in vitro into adipocytes and osteoblasts and differ from BM-MSCs by the expression of membrane CD106, CD10 and CD26 and by the expression of collagen VII mRNA. Like BM-MSCs, fibroblasts are unable to provoke in vitro allogeneic reactions, but strongly suppress lymphocyte proliferation induced by allogeneic mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) or mitogens. We show that fibroblasts' immunosuppressive capacity is independent from prostaglandin E2, IL-10 and the tryptophan catabolising enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase and is not abrogated after the depletion of CD8+ T lymphocytes, NK cells and monocytes.

Conclusion: Finally, fibroblasts and BM-MSCs act at an early stage through blockage of lymphocyte activation, as demonstrated by down-regulation of GZMB (granzyme B) and IL2RA (CD25) expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / immunology*
  • Granzymes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Stromal Cells / immunology


  • IL2RA protein, human
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Granzymes