Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic Syndromes: The "Seed and Soil" Crosstalk

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jul 30;21(15):5438. doi: 10.3390/ijms21155438.


There is growing interest in the contribution of the marrow niche to the pathogenesis of bone marrow failure syndromes, i.e., aplastic anemia (AA) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs). In particular, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells that contribute to the organization and function of the hematopoietic niche through their repopulating and supporting abilities, as well as immunomodulatory properties. The latter are of great interest in MDSs and, particularly, AA, where an immune attack against hematopoietic stem cells is the key pathogenic player. We, therefore, conducted Medline research, including all available evidence from the last 10 years concerning the role of MSCs in these two diseases. The data presented show that MSCs display morphologic, functional, and genetic alterations in AA and MDSs and contribute to immune imbalance, ineffective hematopoiesis, and leukemic evolution. Importantly, adoptive MSC infusion from healthy donors can be exploited to heal the "sick" niche, with even better outcomes if cotransplanted with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cells. Finally, future studies on MSCs and the whole microenvironment will further elucidate AA and MDS pathogenesis and possibly improve treatment.

Keywords: aplastic anemia; bone marrow; hematopoietic stem cell transplant; mesenchymal stem cells; microenvironment; myelodysplastic syndromes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Aplastic / immunology*
  • Anemia, Aplastic / pathology
  • Anemia, Aplastic / therapy
  • Hematopoiesis / immunology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation / immunology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / immunology*
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / pathology
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / therapy
  • Stem Cell Niche / genetics