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Gastroenterology. 2015 Jul;149(1):163-176.e20. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2015.03.013. Epub 2015 Mar 17.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells Reduce Colitis in Mice via Release of TSG6, Independently of Their Localization to the Intestine.

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Milan, Italy.
Department of Immunology, Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Milan, Italy.
Department of Pathology, Catholic University of Rome, Rome, Italy.
Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology Division, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.
Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.
Department of Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.
Institute of General Pathology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.
Clinical Research Center, Division of Translational Medicine, Sidra Medical & Research Center, Doha, Qatar.
Department of Medical Biotechnologies and Translational Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Milan, Italy; Department of Biomedical Sciences, Humanitas University, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:



Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are pluripotent cells that can promote expansion of immune regulatory cells and might be developed for the treatment of immune disorders, including inflammatory bowel diseases. MSCs were reported to reduce colitis in mice; we investigated whether MSC localization to the intestine and production of paracrine factors, including tumor necrosis factor-induced protein 6 (TSG6), were required for these effects.


MSCs were isolated from bone marrow (BM-MSCs) of 4- to 6-week-old C57BL/6, C57BL/6-green fluorescent protein, or Balb/c Tsg6-/- male mice. Colitis was induced by ad libitum administration of dextran sulfate sodium for 10 days; after 5 days the mice were given intraperitoneal injections of BM-MSCs or saline (controls). Blood samples and intestinal tissues were collected 24, 48, 96, and 120 hours later; histologic and flow cytometry analyses were performed.


Injection of BM-MSCs reduced colitis in mice, increasing body weight and reducing markers of intestinal inflammation, compared with control mice. However, fewer than 1% of MSCs reached the inflamed colon. Most of the BM-MSCs formed aggregates in the peritoneal cavity. The aggregates contained macrophages and B and T cells, and produced immune-regulatory molecules including FOXP3, interleukin (IL)10, transforming growth factor-β, arginase type II, chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 22 (CCL22), heme oxygenase-1, and TSG6. Serum from mice given BM-MSCs, compared with mice given saline, had increased levels of TSG6. Injection of TSG6 reduced the severity of colitis in mice, along with the numbers of CD45+ cells, neutrophils and metalloproteinase activity in the mucosa, while increasing the percentage of Foxp3CD45+ cells. TSG6 injection also promoted the expansion of regulatory macrophages that expressed IL10 and inducible nitric oxide synthase, and reduced serum levels of interferon-γ, IL6, and tumor necrosis factor. Tsg6-/- MSCs did not suppress the mucosal inflammatory response in mice with colitis.


BM-MSCs injected into mice with colitis do not localize to the intestine but instead form aggregates in the peritoneum where they produce immunoregulatory molecules, including TSG6, that reduce intestinal inflammation. TSG6 is sufficient to reduce intestinal inflammation in mice with colitis.


Experimental Models of Colitis; IBD; Immune Regulation; Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Based Therapy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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