Network analysis of transcriptional responses induced by mesenchymal stem cell treatment of experimental sepsis

Am J Pathol. 2012 Nov;181(5):1681-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.08.009.


Although bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) systemic administration reduces sepsis-associated inflammation, organ injury, and mortality in clinically relevant models of polymicrobial sepsis, the cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating beneficial effects are controversial. This study identifies the molecular mechanisms of MSC-conferred protection in sepsis by interrogating transcriptional responses of target organs to MSC therapy. Sepsis was induced in C57Bl/6J mice by cecal ligation and puncture, followed 6 hours later by an i.v. injection of either MSCs or saline. Total RNA from lungs, hearts, kidneys, livers, and spleens harvested 28 hours after cecal ligation and puncture was hybridized to mouse expression bead arrays. Common transcriptional responses were analyzed using a network knowledge-based approach. A total of 4751 genes were significantly changed between placebo- and MSC-treated mice (adjusted P ≤ 0.05). Transcriptional responses identified three common effects of MSC administration in all five organs examined: i) attenuation of sepsis-induced mitochondrial-related functional derangement, ii down-regulation of endotoxin/Toll-like receptor innate immune proinflammatory transcriptional responses, and iii) coordinated expression of transcriptional programs implicated in the preservation of endothelial/vascular integrity. Transcriptomic analysis indicates that the protective effect of MSC therapy in sepsis is not limited to a single mediator or pathway but involves a range of complementary activities affecting biological networks playing critical roles in the control of host cell metabolism and inflammatory response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cecum / injuries
  • Cell Communication / genetics
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics*
  • Immunity / genetics
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Ligation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Organ Specificity / genetics
  • Sepsis / chemically induced
  • Sepsis / genetics*
  • Sepsis / prevention & control
  • Sepsis / therapy*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic*