Optimization of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells by rapamycin in a murine model of acute graft-versus-host disease

Kyoung-Woon Kim; Su-Jin Moon; Min-Jung Park; Bo-Mi Kim; Eun-Kyung Kim; Sung-Hee Lee; Eun-Jung Lee; Byung-Ha Chung; Chul-Woo Yang; Mi-La Cho
October 2015
Stem Cell Research & Therapy;10/23/2015, Vol. 6, p1
Academic Journal
Introduction: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can protect bone marrow transplantation (BMT) recipients from the lethal acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) development. However, the mechanisms underlying the anti-inflammatory properties of MSCs in aGVHD remain to be elucidated. The immunoregulatory properties of MSCs are mediated by their production of anti-inflammatory molecules, including IL-10 and TGF-β. On the other hand, MSCs can also produce proinflammatory cytokines during their normal growth, such as IL-1β and IL-6. These opposite actions may limit their therapeutic application in aGVHD. Therefore, optimization of the functional properties of MSCs can increase their benefits. Methods: The expressions of mRNA and protein were analyzed by real-time PCR and western blotting, respectively. Expression of MSC markers was assessed by flow cytometry. An animal model of aGVHD was established by transplanting C57BL/6 donor bone marrow cells and spleen cells into lethally irradiated BALB/c recipient mice. The recipient mice were divided into the control group and the therapy [adipose tissue-derived human MSCs (Ad-hMSCs) or rapamycin-treated Ad-hMSCs] groups. The survival, body weight and clinical score of aGVHD in transplanted mice were monitored. Results: Rapamycin pre-treatment of Ad-hMSCs increased mRNA synthesis of IL-10, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, and TGF-β compared with untreated Ad-hMSCs. Rapamycin-treated Ad-hMSCs suppressed clonal expansion of interleukin-17-producing CD4+ T (Th17) cells more effectively than untreated cells. mRNA expression of autophagy markers such as ATG5, LC3A and LC3B was significantly increased in the rapamycin-treated Ad-hMSCs compared with untreated Ad-hMSCs. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that Ad-hMSCs exposure to rapamycin resulted in the appearance of autophagic vacuoles. Interestingly, in vitro migration efficiency of rapamycin-treated Ad-hMSCs toward the CD4+ T cells was increased significantly compared with the untreated cells. And, these effects were associated with autophagy induction capacity of rapamycin. In vivo, the inhibiting properties of MSCs on the clinical severities of aGVHD were greater in the mice receiving rapamycin-treated Ad-hMSCs compared with untreated Ad-hMSCs. The beneficial effects of rapamycin treatment in Ad-hMSCs shown in vivo were associated with a reduction of Th17 cells and an increase in regulatory T cells. Conclusions: Rapamycin can optimize the immunomodulatory potential of Ad-hMSCs, suggesting a promising strategy of MSC use in aGVHD treatment.


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