Uptake and delivery of antigens by mesenchymal stromal cells

Cytotherapy. 2013 Jun;15(6):673-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2013.01.216. Epub 2013 Mar 21.


Background aims: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are multipotent stem cells with immunosuppressive properties. Nevertheless, it has been previously reported that MSCs might also trigger the immune response. We studied whether MSCs may act as carriers, capturing antigens that can be endocytosed by antigen-presenting cells later on.

Methods: We measured the cellular uptake of mannose receptor-mediated fluid phase macropinocytosis, assessed as cellular uptake of fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran, and PKH-67-labeled cell lysates as a surrogate marker for antigen capture among dendritic cells (DCs, positive control), T lymphocytes (negative control) and MSCs.

Results: All experiments confirmed that MCSs displayed pinocytic and endocytic capacities, which were lower than those observed for DCs but significantly higher than those observed for T cells. We also demonstrated that MSCs release previously endocytosed antigens, which subsequently can be captured by DCs.

Conclusions: MSCs have the ability to capture and release antigens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Endocytosis*
  • HLA-D Antigens / immunology
  • HLA-D Antigens / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins / immunology
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Multipotent Stem Cells
  • Pinocytosis*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • HLA-D Antigens
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • mannose receptor