Neural stem cells (NSCs) possess immunosuppressive characteristics, but effects of NSCs on human dendritic cells (DCs), the most important antigen presenting cells, are less well studied. We used an in vitro approach to evaluate the effects of human NSCs on differentiation of human blood CD14(+) monocytes into DCs. NSCs derived from H1 human embryonic stem cells (hESC-NSCs) and human ReNcell NSC line, as well as human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), were tested. We observed that in response to treatment with interleukin-4 and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor CD14(+) monocytes co-cultured with NSCs were able to down-regulate CD14 and up-regulate the differentiation marker CD1a, whereas MSC co-culture strongly inhibited CD1a expression and supported prolonged expression of CD14. A similar difference between NSCs and MSCs was noted when lipopolysaccharides were included to induce maturation of monocyte-derived DCs. However, when effects on the function of derived DCs were investigated, NSCs suppressed the elevation of the DC maturation marker CD83, although not the up-regulation of costimulatory molecules CD80, CD86 and CD40, and impaired the functional capacity of the derived DCs to stimulate alloreactive T cells. We did not observe any obvious difference between hESC-NSCs and ReNcell NSCs in inhibiting DC maturation and function. Our data suggest that although human NSCs are less effective than human MSCs in suppressing monocyte differentiation into DCs, these stem cells can still affect the function of DCs, ultimately regulating specific immune responses.
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