Mesenchymal stem cells: immune evasive, not immune privileged

Nat Biotechnol. 2014 Mar;32(3):252-60. doi: 10.1038/nbt.2816. Epub 2014 Feb 23.


The diverse immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) may be exploited for treatment of a multitude of inflammatory conditions. MSCs have long been reported to be hypoimmunogenic or 'immune privileged'; this property is thought to enable MSC transplantation across major histocompatibility barriers and the creation of off-the-shelf therapies consisting of MSCs grown in culture. However, recent studies describing generation of antibodies against and immune rejection of allogeneic donor MSCs suggest that MSCs may not actually be immune privileged. Nevertheless, whether rejection of donor MSCs influences the efficacy of allogeneic MSC therapies is not known, and no definitive clinical advantage of autologous MSCs over allogeneic MSCs has been demonstrated to date. Although MSCs may exert therapeutic function through a brief 'hit and run' mechanism, protecting MSCs from immune detection and prolonging their persistence in vivo may improve clinical outcomes and prevent patient sensitization toward donor antigens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / immunology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / physiology
  • Mice
  • Transplantation, Homologous