Kinetics of MSC-based enzyme therapy for immunoregulation

J Transl Med. 2019 Aug 13;17(1):263. doi: 10.1186/s12967-019-2000-6.


Background: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) demonstrate innate and regulatory immunologic functions and have been widely explored for cell therapy applications. Mechanisms by which MSCs achieve therapeutic effects are theorized, though appropriate dosing and duration of these mechanisms in vivo warrant deeper investigation. One, rapid immunosuppressive function of MSCs is through ectoenzyme expression of CD73 and CD39 which cooperatively hydrolyze inflammatory, extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to anti-inflammatory adenosine. Extracellular ATP has a key role in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, which administered MSCs have the potential to modulate in a timescale that is befitting of shorter acting therapeutic function.

Methods: In vitro experiments were performed to determine the hydrolysis rates of ATP by MSCs. Through kinetic modeling from experimental results, the rate at which a single cell can metabolize ATP was determined. Based on these rates, the ability of MSCs to downregulate inflammatory signaling pathways was prospectively validated using model system parameters with respect to two different mechanisms: extracellular ATP stimulates lymphocytes to suppress proliferation and induce apoptosis and with co-stimulation, it stimulates monocytes to release pro-inflammatory IL-1β. MSCs were co-cultured with immune cells using transwell inserts and compared to immune cell only groups.

Results: Hydrolysis of ATP was efficiently modeled by first-order enzyme kinetics. For in vitro culture, the rate at which a single cell can hydrolyize ATP is 8.9 nmol/min. In the presence of extracellular ATP, cocultures of MSCs reduced cytotoxicity and allows for proliferation of lymphocytes while limiting IL-1β secretion from monocytes.

Conclusions: Such use of these models may allow for better dosing predictions for MSCs to be used therapeutically for chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, pancreatitis, and other systemic inflammatory response syndromes. For the first time, the effect of MSCs on ATP hydrolysis in immune cell response is quantitatively analyzed on a cell-molecule basis by modeling the hydrolysis as an enzyme-substrate reaction. The results also give insight into MSCs' dynamic response mechanisms to ameliorate effects of extracellular ATP whether it be through positive or negative regulation.

Keywords: ATP; Autoimmune disease; Cell therapy; Hydrolysis; Immune model; Immunomodulation; Inflammation; Lymphocyte; MSC; Mesenchymal stem cells; Monocyte; Pharmacokinetics; Purinergic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • 5'-Nucleotidase / therapeutic use*
  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Antigens, CD / therapeutic use*
  • Apyrase / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Antigens, CD
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • 5'-Nucleotidase
  • Apyrase
  • CD39 antigen
  • Adenosine