Human mesenchymal stromal cells ameliorate complement induced inflammatory cascade and improve renal functions in a rat model of ischemia-reperfusion induced acute kidney injury

PLoS One. 2019 Sep 12;14(9):e0222354. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222354. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: The primary rational for using mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) to rejuvenate damaged tissue is mostly based on their capacity to trans-differentiate and repair injured organs. However, previous studies have demonstrated that MSCs are beneficial even at very early stages, before differentiation and proliferation can be expected. The aim of the current study was to investigate the multifaceted immunological effects of systemically administrating MSCs in the setting of acute kidney injury (AKI) induced by ischemic-reperfusion (I/R).

Methods: A rat model of I/R induced AKI was used. The rats underwent a unilateral nephrectomy with simultaneously clamping the contralateral kidney for 60 minutes. Four treatment groups received intravenously, increasing doses of human MSCs and after 48 hours, the rats were sacrificed. Blood was taken to evaluate renal functions and to measure systemic inflammatory markers. Kidneys were taken for histopathologic examinations and evaluations of intra-renal complement activation and inflammatory mediators.

Results: Renal functions improved in U shaped dose dependent manner. Mean serum creatinine levels were 4.5, 2.9, 2.6, 1.7 and 4.1 mg/dL in I/R + placebo, I/R + 150x103 cells, I/R + 250x103 cells, I/R + 500x103 cells and I/R + 1,000x103 cells respectfully (p-values<0.05). Urea demonstrated consistent results with the same U shape improvement manner. The extensive activation of the complement system was ameliorated in the MSCs treatment groups. In addition, MSCs significantly decreased intra-renal levels of IL-1β and TNF-α. It should be noted that the highest doses of MSCs induced renal hypoxia, marked by the Hypoxy-probe staining.

Conclusions: The early beneficial effect of MSCs in the setting of AKI may be attributed to their immunomodulatory effects. Safe treatment with MSCs can block the deleterious activation of the complement cascade and alleviate the hazardous inflammatory mediator-related cascade.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / pathology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / therapy*
  • Animals
  • Complement Activation / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology
  • Reperfusion Injury / therapy*

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.