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Blood. 2005 Jul 15;106(2):419-27. Epub 2005 Mar 22.

Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells express a restricted set of functionally active chemokine receptors capable of promoting migration to pancreatic islets.

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  • 1Telethon-Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Center for Beta Cell Replacement, H. S. Raffaele-Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, and Renal Pathophysiology Laboratory, Division of Medicine, Via Olgettina 60, 20132 Milan, Italy.


Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) are stromal cells with the ability to proliferate and differentiate into many tissues. Although they represent powerful tools for several therapeutic settings, mechanisms regulating their migration to peripheral tissues are still unknown. Here, we report chemokine receptor expression on human BM-MSCs and their role in mediating migration to tissues. A minority of BM-MSCs (2% to 25%) expressed a restricted set of chemokine receptors (CXC receptor 4 [CXCR4], CX3C receptor 1 [CX3CR1], CXCR6, CC chemokine receptor 1 [CCR1], CCR7) and, accordingly, showed appreciable chemotactic migration in response to the chemokines CXC ligand 12 (CXCL12), CX3CL1, CXCL16, CC chemokine ligand 3 (CCL3), and CCL19. Using human pancreatic islets as an in vitro model of peripheral tissue, we showed that islet supernatants released factors able to attract BM-MSCs in vitro, and this attraction was principally mediated by CX3CL1 and CXCL12. Moreover, cells with features of BM-MSCs were detected within the pancreatic islets of mice injected with green fluorescent protein (GFP)-positive BM. A population of bona fide MSCs that also expressed CXCR4, CXCR6, CCR1, and CCR7 could be isolated from normal adult human pancreas. This study defines the chemokine receptor repertoire of human BM-MSCs that determines their migratory activity. Modulation of homing capacity may be instrumental for harnessing the therapeutic potential of BM-MSCs.

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