Background and objectives: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) abrogate alloimmune response in vitro, suggesting a novel cell-based approach in transplantation. Moving this concept toward clinical application in organ transplantation should be critically assessed.
Design, setting, participants & measurements: A safety and clinical feasibility study (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00752479) of autologous MSC infusion was conducted in two recipients of kidneys from living-related donors. Patients were given T cell-depleting induction therapy and maintenance immunosuppression with cyclosporine and mycophenolate mofetil. On day 7 posttransplant, MSCs were administered intravenously. Clinical and immunomonitoring of MSC-treated patients was performed up to day 360 postsurgery.
Results: Serum creatinine levels increased 7 to 14 days after cell infusion in both MSC-treated patients. A graft biopsy in patient 2 excluded acute graft rejection, but showed a focal inflammatory infiltrate, mostly granulocytes. In patient 1 protocol biopsy at 1-year posttransplant showed a normal graft. Both MSC-treated patients are in good health with stable graft function. A progressive increase of the percentage of CD4+CD25highFoxP3+CD127- Treg and a marked inhibition of memory CD45RO+RA-CD8+ T cell expansion were observed posttransplant. Patient T cells showed a profound reduction of CD8+ T cell activity.
Conclusions: Findings from this study in the two patients show that MSC infusion in kidney transplant recipients is feasible, allows enlargement of Treg in the peripheral blood, and controls memory CD8+ T cell function. Future clinical trials with MSCs to look with the greatest care for unwanted side effects is advised.