Background: Three-dimensional cultured clumps of a mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)/extracellular matrix (ECM) complex (C-MSC) consists of cells and self-produced ECM. C-MSC can regulate the cellular function in vitro and induce successful bone regeneration using ECM as a cell scaffold. Potentiating the immunomodulatory capacity of C-MSCs, which can ameliorate the allo-specific immune response, may be helpful in developing beneficial "off-the-shelf" cell therapy for tissue regeneration. It is well reported that interferon (IFN)-γ stimulates the immunosuppressive properties of MSC via upregulation of the immunomodulatory enzyme IDO. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of IFN-γ on the immunomodulatory capacity of C-MSC in vitro and to test the bone regenerative activity of C-MSC or IFN-γ-pretreated C-MSC (C-MSCγ) xenografts in a mice calvarial defect model.
Methods: Human bone marrow-derived MSCs were seeded at a density of 2.0 × 105 cells/well into 24-well plates and cultured with growth medium supplemented with 50 μg/mL L-ascorbic acid for 4 days. To obtain C-MSC, confluent cells that had formed on the cellular sheet were scratched using a micropipette tip and were then torn off. The cellular sheet was rolled to make a round clump of cells. C-MSC was stimulated with IFN-γ and IDO expression, immunosuppressive capacity, and immunophenotype were evaluated in vitro. Moreover, C-MSC or C-MSCγ was xenotransplanted into immunocompetent or immunodeficient mice calvarial defect models without artificial scaffold, respectively.
Results: IFN-γ stimulated IDO expression in C-MSC. C-MSCγ, but not C-MSC, attenuated CD3/CD28-induced T cell proliferation and its suppressive effect was reversed by an IDO inhibitor. C-MSCγ showed upregulation of HLA-DR expression, but its co-stimulatory molecule, CD86, was not detected. Xenotransplantation of C-MSCγ into immunocompetent mice calvarial defect induced bone regeneration, whereas C-MSC xenograft failed and induced T cell infiltration in the grafted area. On the other hand, both C-MSC and C-MSCγ xenotransplantation into immunodeficient mice caused bone regeneration.
Conclusions: Xenotransplantation of C-MSCγ, which exerts immunomodulatory properties via the upregulation of IDO activity in vitro, may attenuate xenoreactive host immune response, and thereby induce bone regeneration in mice. Accordingly, C-MSCγ may constitute a promising novel allograft cell therapy for bone regeneration.
Keywords: C-MSC; IDO; IFN-γ; Xenotransplantation.