Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cell Death Differ. 2012 Sep;19(9):1505-13. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2012.26. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

Mesenchymal stem cells: a double-edged sword in regulating immune responses.

Author information

  • 1Key Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology, Institute of Health Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences/Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, 225 South Chongqing Road, Shanghai 200025, China.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been employed successfully to treat various immune disorders in animal models and clinical settings. Our previous studies have shown that MSCs can become highly immunosuppressive upon stimulation by inflammatory cytokines, an effect exerted through the concerted action of chemokines and nitric oxide (NO). Here, we show that MSCs can also enhance immune responses. This immune-promoting effect occurred when proinflammatory cytokines were inadequate to elicit sufficient NO production. When inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) production was inhibited or genetically ablated, MSCs strongly enhance T-cell proliferation in vitro and the delayed-type hypersensitivity response in vivo. Furthermore, iNOS(-/-) MSCs significantly inhibited melanoma growth. It is likely that in the absence of NO, chemokines act to promote immune responses. Indeed, in CCR5(-/-)CXCR3(-/-) mice, the immune-promoting effect of iNOS(-/-) MSCs is greatly diminished. Thus, NO acts as a switch in MSC-mediated immunomodulation. More importantly, the dual effect on immune reactions was also observed in human MSCs, in which indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) acts as a switch. This study provides novel information about the pathophysiological roles of MSCs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk