Long-term therapeutic effects of mesenchymal stem cells compared to dexamethasone on recurrent experimental autoimmune uveitis of rats

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Aug 14;55(9):5561-71. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-14788.


Purpose: We tested the long-term effects of different regimens of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) administration in a recurrent experimental autoimmune uveitis (rEAU) model in rats, and compared the efficacy of MSC to that of dexamethasone (DEX).

Methods: One or two courses of MSC treatments were applied to R16-specific T cell-induced rEAU rats before or after disease onsets. The DEX injections were given for 7 or 50 days continuously after disease onsets. Clinical appearances were observed until the 50th day after transfer. On the 10th day, T cells from control and MSC groups were analyzed by flow cytometry. Supernatants from the proliferation assay and aqueous humor were collected for cytokine detection. Functions of T cells and APCs in spleens also were studied by lymphocyte proliferation assays.

Results: One course of MSC therapy, administered after disease onset, led to a lasting therapeutic effect, with a decreased incidence, reduced mean clinical score, and reduced retinal impairment after 50 days of observation, while multiple courses of treatment did not improve the therapeutic benefit. Although DEX and MSCs equally reduced the severity of the first episode of rEAU, the effect of DEX was shorter lasting, and DEX therapy failed to control the disease even with long periods of treatment. The MSCs significantly decreased T helper 1 (Th1) and Th17 responses, suppressed the function of antigen-presenting cells, and upregulated T regulatory cells.

Conclusions: These results suggested that MSCs might be new corticosteroid spring agents, while providing fewer side effects and longer lasting suppressive effects for recurrent uveitis.

Keywords: T cells; antigen-presenting cells; dexamethasone; mesenchymal stem cells; recurrent experimental autoimmune uveitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Rats
  • Recurrence
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Uveitis / immunology
  • Uveitis / therapy*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Dexamethasone