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J Immunol. 2010 Mar 1;184(5):2321-8. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0902023. Epub 2010 Feb 3.

Inflammatory cytokine-induced intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 in mesenchymal stem cells are critical for immunosuppression.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology, and Immunology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, USA.


Cell-cell adhesion mediated by ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 is critical for T cell activation and leukocyte recruitment to the inflammation site and, therefore, plays an important role in evoking effective immune responses. However, we found that ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 were critical for mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-mediated immunosuppression. When MSCs were cocultured with T cells in the presence of T cell Ag receptor activation, they significantly upregulated the adhesive capability of T cells due to the increased expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1. By comparing the immunosuppressive effect of MSCs toward various subtypes of T cells and the expression of these adhesion molecules, we found that the greater expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 by MSCs, the greater the immunosuppressive capacity that they exhibited. Furthermore, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 were found to be inducible by the concomitant presence of IFN-gamma and inflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha or IL-1). Finally, MSC-mediated immunosuppression was significantly reversed in vitro and in vivo when the adhesion molecules were genetically deleted or functionally blocked, which corroborated the importance of cell-cell contact in immunosuppression by MSCs. Taken together, these findings reveal a novel function of adhesion molecules in immunoregulation by MSCs and provide new insights for the clinical studies of antiadhesion therapies in various immune disorders.

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