Mesenchymal stromal cells transiently alter the inflammatory milieu post-transplant to delay graft-versus-host disease

Haematologica. 2010 Dec;95(12):2102-10. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2010.028910. Epub 2010 Aug 26.


Background: Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells suppress T-cell function in vitro, a property that has underpinned their use in treating clinical steroid-refractory graft-versus-host disease after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. However the potential of mesenchymal stromal cells to resolve graft-versus-host disease is confounded by a paucity of pre-clinical data delineating their immunomodulatory effects in vivo.

Design and methods: We examined the influence of timing and dose of donor-derived mesenchymal stromal cells on the kinetics of graft-versus-host disease in two murine models of graft-versus-host disease (major histocompatibility complex-mismatched: UBI-GFP/BL6 [H-2(b)]→BALB/c [H-2(d)] and the sibling transplant mimic, UBI-GFP/BL6 [H-2(b)]→BALB.B [H-2(b)]) using clinically relevant conditioning regimens. We also examined the effect of mesenchymal stromal cell infusion on bone marrow and spleen cellular composition and cytokine secretion in transplant recipients.

Results: Despite T-cell suppression in vitro, mesenchymal stromal cells delayed but did not prevent graft-versus-host disease in the major histocompatibility complex-mismatched model. In the sibling transplant model, however, 30% of mesenchymal stromal cell-treated mice did not develop graft-versus-host disease. The timing of administration and dose of the mesenchymal stromal cells influenced their effectiveness in attenuating graft-versus-host disease, such that a low dose of mesenchymal stromal cells administered early was more effective than a high dose of mesenchymal stromal cells given late. Compared to control-treated mice, mesenchymal stromal cell-treated mice had significant reductions in serum and splenic interferon-γ, an important mediator of graft-versus-host disease.

Conclusions: Mesenchymal stromal cells appear to delay death from graft-versus-host disease by transiently altering the inflammatory milieu and reducing levels of interferon-γ. Our data suggest that both the timing of infusion and the dose of mesenchymal stromal cells likely influence these cells' effectiveness in attenuating graft-versus-host disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Stromal Cells / cytology
  • Stromal Cells / immunology*
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Survival Analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Interferon-gamma