Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is known to induce apoptosis of host immune cells and impair phagocytic clearance, thereby being pivotal in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis (AD). Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) exert therapeutic effects against inflammatory and immune diseases. In the present study, we investigated whether systemic administration of ASCs restores the phagocytic activity of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and decolonizes cutaneous S. aureus under AD conditions. AD was induced by injecting capsaicin into neonatal rat pups. ASCs were extracted from the subcutaneous adipose tissues of naïve rats and administered to AD rats once a week for a month. Systemic administration of ASCs ameliorated AD-like symptoms, such as dermatitis scores, serum IgE, IFN-γ+/IL-4+ cell ratio, and skin colonization by S. aureus in AD rats. Increased FasL mRNA and annexin V+/7-AAD+ cells in the PBMCs obtained from AD rats were drastically reversed when co-cultured with ASCs. In contrast, both PBMCs and CD163+ cells bearing fluorescent zymosan particles significantly increased in AD rats treated with ASCs. Additionally, the administration of ASCs led to an increase in the mRNA levels of antimicrobial peptides, such as cathelicidin and β-defensin, in the skin of AD rats. Our results demonstrate that systemic administration of ASCs led to decolonization of S. aureus by attenuating apoptosis of immune cells in addition to restoring phagocytic activity. This contributes to the improvement of skin conditions in AD rats. Therefore, administration of ASCs may be helpful in the treatment of patients with intractable AD.
Keywords: Adipose-derived stem cells; Antimicrobial peptides; Atopic dermatitis; Phagocytosis; Staphylococcus aureus.