In addition to their stem/progenitor properties, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) possess broad immunoregulatory properties that are being investigated for potential clinical application in treating immune-based disorders. An informed view of the scope of this clinical potential will require a clear understanding of the dynamic interplay between MSCs and the innate and adaptive immune systems. In this Review, we outline current insights into the ways in which MSCs sense and control inflammation, highlighting the central role of macrophage polarization. We also draw attention to functional differences seen between vivo and in vitro contexts and between species. Finally, we discuss progress toward clinical application of MSCs, focusing on GvHD as a case study.
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