Immunomodulation effects of mesenchymal stromal cells on acute graft-versus-host disease after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2015 Jan;21(1):97-104. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2014.09.030. Epub 2014 Oct 6.


Refractory acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) is a major cause of death after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. This study evaluated the immunomodulation effects of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) from bone marrow of a third-party donor for refractory aGVHD. Forty-seven patients with refractory aGVHD were enrolled: 28 patients receiving MSC and 19 patients without MSC treatment. MSCs were given at a median dose of 1 × 10(6) cells/kg weekly until patients got complete response or received 8 doses of MSCs. After 125 doses of MSCs were administered, with a median of 4 doses (range, 2 to 8) per patient, overall response rate was 75% in the MSC group compared with 42.1% in the non-MSC group (P = .023). The incidence of cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus infections, and tumor relapse was not different between the 2 groups during aGVHD treatment and follow-up. The incidence and severity of chronic GVHD in the MSC group were lower than those in the non-MSC group (P = .045 and P = .005). The ratio of CD3(+)CD4(+)/CD3(+)CD8(+) T cells, the frequencies of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs), and the levels of signal joint T cell-receptor excision DNA circles (sjTRECs) after MSCs treatment were higher than those pretreatment. MSC-treated patients exhibited higher Tregs frequencies and sjTRECs levels than those in the non-MSC group at 8 and 12 weeks after treatment. MSCs derived from bone marrow of a third-party donor are effective to refractory aGVHD. It might reduce the incidence and severity of chronic GVHD in aGVHD patients by improving thymic function and induction of Tregs but not increase the risks of infections and tumor relapse.

Keywords: Graft-versus-host disease; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Immunomodulation; Mesenchymal stromal cell.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / mortality
  • Graft vs Host Disease / pathology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / therapy*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Transplantation Conditioning*
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Unrelated Donors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents