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Mol Ther. 2004 May;9(5):747-56.

Internalized antigens must be removed to prepare hypoimmunogenic mesenchymal stem cells for cell and gene therapy.

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Center for Gene Therapy, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, 1430 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.


Adult stem cells from human bone marrow stroma, referred to as mesenchymal stem cells or marrow stromal cells (hMSCs), are attractive candidates for clinical use. The optimal conditions for hMSC expansion require medium supplemented with fetal calf serum (FCS). Some forms of cell therapy will involve multiple doses, raising a concern over immunological reactions caused by medium-derived FCS proteins. By a sensitive fluorescence-based assay we determined that 7 to 30 mg of FCS proteins are associated with a standard preparation of 100 million hMSCs, a dosage that probably will be needed for clinical therapies. Here we present ex vivo growth conditions for hMSCs that reduce the FCS proteins to less than 100 ng per 100 million hMSCs, approximately a 100,000-fold reduction. The cells maintain their proliferative capacity and sustain their ability for multilineage differentiation. Experiments in rats demonstrate that rat MSCs grown in 20% FCS induce a substantial humoral response after repeated administrations, whereas cells grown under the conditions described in this study reduce the immunogenicity in terms of IgG response over 1000-fold to barely detectable levels. Our results have the potential to dramatically improve cellular and genetic therapies using hMSCs and perhaps other cells.

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