Cytokine interplay among the diseased retina, inflammatory cells and mesenchymal stem cells - a clue to stem cell-based therapy

World J Stem Cells. 2019 Nov 26;11(11):957-967. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v11.i11.957.


Retinal degenerative disorders, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma, represent the most common causes of loss of vision and blindness. In spite of intensive research, treatment options to prevent, stop or cure these diseases are limited. Newer therapeutic approaches are offered by stem cell-based therapy. To date, various types of stem cells have been evaluated in a range of models. Among them, mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) derived from bone marrow or adipose tissue and used as autologous cells have been proposed to have the potential to attenuate the negative manifestations of retinal diseases. MSCs delivered to the vicinity of the diseased retina can exert local anti-inflammatory and repair-promoting/regenerative effects on retinal cells. However, MSCs also produce numerous factors that could have negative impacts on retinal regeneration. The secretory activity of MSCs is strongly influenced by the cytokine environment. Therefore, the interactions among the molecules produced by the diseased retina, cytokines secreted by inflammatory cells and factors produced by MSCs will decide the development and propagation of retinal diseases. Here we discuss the interactions among cytokines and other factors in the environment of the diseased retina treated by MSCs, and we present results supporting immunoregulatory and trophic roles of molecules secreted in the vicinity of the retina during MSC-based therapy.

Keywords: Cytokines; Degenerative diseases; Growth factors; Mesenchymal stem cells; Retina; Stem cell therapy.

Publication types

  • Review