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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45590. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045590. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

Mesenchymal stem cell 1 (MSC1)-based therapy attenuates tumor growth whereas MSC2-treatment promotes tumor growth and metastasis.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, LA, USA.



Currently, there are many promising clinical trials using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in cell-based therapies of numerous diseases. Increasingly, however, there is a concern over the use of MSCs because they home to tumors and can support tumor growth and metastasis. For instance, we established that MSCs in the ovarian tumor microenvironment promoted tumor growth and favored angiogenesis. In parallel studies, we also developed a new approach to induce the conventional mixed pool of MSCs into two uniform but distinct phenotypes we termed MSC1 and MSC2.


Here we tested the in vitro and in vivo stability of MSC1 and MSC2 phenotypes as well as their effects on tumor growth and spread. In vitro co-culture of MSC1 with various cancer cells diminished growth in colony forming units and tumor spheroid assays, while conventional MSCs or MSC2 co-culture had the opposite effect in these assays. Co-culture of MSC1 and cancer cells also distinctly affected their migration and invasion potential when compared to MSCs or MSC2 treated samples. The expression of bioactive molecules also differed dramatically among these samples. MSC1-based treatment of established tumors in an immune competent model attenuated tumor growth and metastasis in contrast to MSCs- and MSC2-treated animals in which tumor growth and spread was increased. Also, in contrast to these groups, MSC1-therapy led to less ascites accumulation, increased CD45+leukocytes, decreased collagen deposition, and mast cell degranulation.


These observations indicate that the MSC1 and MSC2 phenotypes may be convenient tools for the discovery of critical components of the tumor stroma. The continued investigation of these cells may help ensure that cell based-therapy is used safely and effectively in human disease.

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