Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells mitigate chronic colitis and enteric neuropathy via anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative mechanisms

Sci Rep. 2024 Mar 20;14(1):6649. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-57070-6.


Current treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are often inadequate due to limited efficacy and toxicity, leading to surgical resection in refractory cases. IBD's broad and complex pathogenesis involving the immune system, enteric nervous system, microbiome, and oxidative stress requires more effective therapeutic strategies. In this study, we investigated the therapeutic potential of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell (BM-MSC) treatments in spontaneous chronic colitis using the Winnie mouse model which closely replicates the presentation and inflammatory profile of ulcerative colitis. The 14-day BM-MSC treatment regimen reduced the severity of colitis, leading to the attenuation of diarrheal symptoms and recovery in body mass. Morphological and histological abnormalities in the colon were also alleviated. Transcriptomic analysis demonstrated that BM-MSC treatment led to alterations in gene expression profiles primarily downregulating genes related to inflammation, including pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and other biomarkers of inflammation. Further evaluation of immune cell populations using immunohistochemistry revealed a reduction in leukocyte infiltration upon BM-MSC treatment. Notably, enteric neuronal gene signatures were the most impacted by BM-MSC treatment, which correlated with the restoration of neuronal density in the myenteric ganglia. Moreover, BM-MSCs exhibited neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress-induced neuronal loss through antioxidant mechanisms, including the reduction of mitochondrial-derived superoxide and attenuation of oxidative stress-induced HMGB1 translocation, potentially relying on MSC-derived SOD1. These findings suggest that BM-MSCs hold promise as a therapeutic intervention to mitigate chronic colitis by exerting anti-inflammatory effects and protecting the enteric nervous system from oxidative stress-induced damage.

Keywords: BM-MSC; Colitis; Enteric nervous system; Mesenchymal stem cell; Neuroinflammation; Oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Colitis* / chemically induced
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases*
  • Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / pathology
  • Mice


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents