Effects of inflammation on stem cells: together they strive?

EMBO Rep. 2015 Apr;16(4):416-26. doi: 10.15252/embr.201439702. Epub 2015 Mar 4.


Inflammation entails a complex set of defense mechanisms acting in concert to restore the homeostatic balance in organisms after damage or pathogen invasion. This immune response consists of the activity of various immune cells in a highly complex manner. Inflammation is a double-edged sword as it is reported to have both detrimental and beneficial consequences. In this review, we discuss the effects of inflammation on stem cell activity, focusing primarily on neural stem/progenitor cells in mammals and zebrafish. We also give a brief overview of the effects of inflammation on other stem cell compartments, exemplifying the positive and negative role of inflammation on stemness. The majority of the chronic diseases involve an unremitting phase of inflammation due to improper resolution of the initial pro-inflammatory response that impinges on the stem cell behavior. Thus, understanding the mechanisms of crosstalk between the inflammatory milieu and tissue-resident stem cells is an important basis for clinical efforts. Not only is it important to understand the effect of inflammation on stem cell activity for further defining the etiology of the diseases, but also better mechanistic understanding is essential to design regenerative therapies that aim at micromanipulating the inflammatory milieu to offset the negative effects and maximize the beneficial outcomes.

Keywords: disease; inflammation; neural stem cell; proliferation; regeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins / genetics
  • Acute-Phase Proteins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Nervous System / pathology
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / pathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cell Niche / genetics
  • Zebrafish


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins