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Roberta Tasso, Cristina Ilengo, Rodolfo Quarto, Ranieri Cancedda, Rachel R. Caspi, Giuseppina Pennesi; Mesenchymal Stem Cells Induce Functionally Active T-Regulatory Lymphocytes in a Paracrine Fashion and Ameliorate Experimental Autoimmune Uveitis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(2):786-793. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.11-8211.
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Mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells (MSCs) have regenerative and immunomodulatory properties, exerted by cell-cell contact and in a paracrine fashion. Part of their immunosuppressive activity has been ascribed to their ability to promote the induction of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ T lymphocytes with regulatory functions (Treg). Here the authors studied the effect of MSCs on the induction of Treg and on the development of autoimmunity, and they examined the possibility that MSC-mediated Treg induction could be attributed to the secretion of soluble factors.
The authors induced experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) in mice by immunization with the 1–20 peptide of the intraphotoreceptor binding protein. At the same time, some of the animals were treated intraperitoneally with syngeneic MSCs. The authors checked T-cell responses and in vitro Treg conversion by cell proliferation and blocking assays, in cell-cell contact and transwell settings. TGFβ and TGFβ receptor gene expression analyses were performed by real-time PCR.
The authors found that a single intraperitoneal injection of MSCs was able to significantly attenuate EAU and that a significantly higher percentage of adaptive Treg was present in MSC-treated mice than in MSC-untreated animals. In vitro blocking of antigen presentation by major histocompatibility complex class II precluded priming and clonal expansion of antigen-specific Treg, whereas blockade of TGFβ impaired the expression of FoxP3, preventing the conversion of CD4+ T cells into functionally active Treg.
The authors demonstrated that MSCs can inhibit EAU and that their immunomodulatory function is due at least in part to the induction of antigen-specific Treg in a paracrine fashion by secreting TGFβ.
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