Human Adipose Stromal/Stem Cells from Obese Donors Show Reduced Efficacy in Halting Disease Progression in the Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Model of Multiple Sclerosis

Stem Cells. 2016 Mar;34(3):614-26. doi: 10.1002/stem.2272. Epub 2016 Feb 2.


Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the white matter of the central nervous system and involves inflammation and demyelination. The recent advances in our understanding of adipose-derived stromal/stem cells (ASCs) and the utilization of these cells in clinical settings to treat diseases have made it essential to identify the most effective ASCs for therapy. Studies have not yet investigated the impact of obesity on the therapeutic efficacy of ASCs. Obesity is characterized by adipocyte hyperplasia and hypertrophy and can extend to metabolic and endocrine dysfunction. Investigating the impact obesity has on ASC biology will determine whether these cells are suitable for use in regenerative medicine. The therapeutic efficacy of ASCs isolated from lean subjects (body mass index [BMI] < 25; lnASCs) and obese subjects (BMI > 30; obASCs) were determined in murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a model of multiple sclerosis. Compared with the EAE disease-modifying effects of lnASCs, obASCs consistently failed to alleviate clinical symptoms or inhibit inflammation in the central nervous system. When activated, obASCs expressed higher mRNA levels of several pro-inflammatory cytokines compared with lnASCs. Additionally, conditioned media (CM) collected from the obASCs markedly enhanced the proliferation and differentiation of T cells; whereas, CM from lnASC did not. These results indicate that obesity reduces, or eliminates, the anti-inflammatory effects of human ASCs such that they may not be a suitable cell source for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The data suggest that donor demographics may be particularly important when identifying suitable stem cells for treatment.

Keywords: Adipose stromal/stem cells; Adipose-derived stromal/stem cells; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Immunomodulatory properties; Multiple sclerosis; Obesity; Therapeutic efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / transplantation
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / pathology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammation / therapy*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Tissue Donors