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Mol Ther. 2012 Jan;20(1):14-20. doi: 10.1038/mt.2011.211. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs): role as guardians of inflammation.

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  • 1Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine at Scott & White, Temple, Texas 76502, USA.


Recent observations have demonstrated that one of the functions of mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) is to serve as guardians against excessive inflammatory responses. One mode of action of the cells is that they are activated to express the interleukin (IL)-1 receptor antagonist. A second mode of action is to create a negative feedback loop in which tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and other proinflammatory cytokines from resident macrophages activate MSCs to secrete the multifunctional anti-inflammatory protein TNF-α stimulated gene/protein 6 (TSG-6). The TSG-6 then reduces nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling in the resident macrophages and thereby modulates the cascade of proinflammatory cytokines. A third mode of action is to create a second negative feedback loop whereby lipopolysaccharide, TNF-α, nitric oxide, and perhaps other damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) from injured tissues and macrophages activate MSCs to secrete prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)). The PGE(2) converts macrophages to the phenotype that secretes IL-10. There are also suggestions that MSCs may produce anti-inflammatory effects through additional modes of action including activation to express the antireactive oxygen species protein stanniocalcin-1.

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