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Eur J Immunol. 2005 May;35(5):1482-90.

Bone marrow mesenchymal progenitor cells inhibit lymphocyte proliferation by activation of the programmed death 1 pathway.

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  • 1Laboratory of Regenerative Medicine, National Institute for Cancer Research, Genova, Italy.


Bone marrow mesenchymal progenitor cells (BMSC) are used for regenerating tissues of mesodermal origin, as well as tissues of different embryological derivation. Experimental evidence shows that BMSC are able to suppress the activation of the immune response by mechanisms that are still not completely understood. Thus far, in vitro studies carried using human or mouse cells indicate that autologous or allogeneic BMSC strongly suppress proliferation of T lymphocytes, triggered by cellular stimuli, nonspecific mitogenic stimuli, or antigenic peptides. Using cell proliferation and blocking assays, we demonstrated that BMSC inhibited the activation of murine splenocytes, T, and B lymphocytes. Direct contact of BMSC and target cells in a cognate fashion determined the inhibition of cell proliferation via engagement of the inhibitory molecule programmed death 1 (PD-1) to its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2, leading the target cells to modulate the expression of different cytokine receptors and transduction molecules for cytokine signaling. Soluble factors present on supernatants of BMSC cultures were effective in suppressing proliferation of B cells to a mitogenic stimulus. Taken together, these results highlight the complexity of the role of BMSC in regulating the immune response, asserting the possibility of their therapeutic application in transplantation and autoimmune diseases.

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