Background aims: Human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (UC-MSCs) possess broad and potent immunomodulatory activities and have shown great potential in anti-inflammatory therapies. However, a biomarker that can be used to assess quickly and efficiently the immunomodulatory function of UC-MSCs has not been identified. Several studies have revealed that galectin-3 (Gal-3), a member of the human galectin family, is involved in the immunosuppressive function of MSCs.
Methods: Gal-3 gene expression in UC-MSCs was analyzed using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting. Blocking of Gal-3 expression in UC-MSCs with small interfering RNA was employed to analyze whether the immunosuppressive function of UC-MSCs was affected.
Results: We found that UC-MSCs expressed Gal-3 both on the cell surface and in secreted form, and the expression levels of Gal-3 did not show significant variation after cell passaging. We further showed that Gal-3 expression correlated with the immunosuppressive function of UC-MSCs because knock-down of Gal-3 expression with small interfering RNA significantly abrogated the inhibitory effects of UC-MSCs on mitogen-stimulated and alloantigen-stimulated proliferation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells; meanwhile, the inhibitory effect of UC-MSCs was reversed by adding back recombinant Gal-3 to the co-culture systems. The inhibitory activities of human UC-MSCs were not reduced even when they were separated from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in a transwell co-culture system, indicating that the soluble form of Gal-3 was the major effector.
Conclusions: The Gal-3 protein secreted by UC-MSCs shows good correlation with immunosuppressive potential and may serve as a possible biomarker for the potency test of UC-MSCs.
Keywords: biomarker; galectin-3; immunomodulatory; umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells.
Copyright © 2013 International Society for Cellular Therapy. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.