Influenza Virus Infects Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Vitro: Implications for Bone Marrow Transplantation

Cell Transplant. 2013;22(3):461-8. doi: 10.3727/096368912X656063. Epub 2012 Sep 21.


Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have differentiation, immunomodulatory, and self-renewal properties and are, therefore, an attractive tool for regenerative medicine and autoimmune diseases. MSCs may be of great value to treat graft-versus-host disease. Influenza virus causes highly contagious seasonal infection and occasional pandemics. The infection is severe in children, elderly, and immunocompromised hosts including hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients. The objective of this study was to determine if MSCs are permissive to influenza virus replication. We isolated MSCs from the bone marrow of 4- to 6-week-old germ-free pigs. Swine and human influenza virus strains were used to infect MSCs in vitro. MSCs expressed known influenza virus α-2,3 and α-2,6 sialic acid receptors and supported replication of swine and human influenza viruses. Viral infection of MSCs resulted in cell lysis and proinflammatory cytokine production. These findings demonstrate that bone marrow-derived MSCs are susceptible to influenza virus. The data also suggest that transplantation of bone marrow MSCs from influenza virus-infected donors may transmit infection to recipients. Also, MSCs may get infected if infused into a patient with an ongoing influenza virus infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / pathogenicity*
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / virology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Swine
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Interleukin-6
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • sialic acid receptor