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Stem Cell Res Ther. 2017 Jul 14;8(1):168. doi: 10.1186/s13287-017-0618-y.

Interleukin-3 enhances the migration of human mesenchymal stem cells by regulating expression of CXCR4.

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National Centre for Cell Science, S. P. Pune University Campus, Pune, 411 007, India.
National Centre for Cell Science, S. P. Pune University Campus, Pune, 411 007, India.
National Centre for Cell Science, S. P. Pune University Campus, Pune, 411 007, India.



Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent an important source for cell therapy in regenerative medicine. MSCs have shown promising results for repair of damaged tissues in various degenerative diseases in animal models and also in human clinical trials. However, little is known about the factors that could enhance the migration and tissue-specific engraftment of exogenously infused MSCs for successful regenerative cell therapy. Previously, we have reported that interleukin-3 (IL-3) prevents bone and cartilage damage in animal models of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Also, IL-3 promotes the differentiation of human MSCs into functional osteoblasts and increases their in-vivo bone regenerative potential in immunocompromised mice. However, the role of IL-3 in migration of MSCs is not yet known. In the present study, we investigated the role of IL-3 in migration of human MSCs under both in-vitro and in-vivo conditions.


MSCs isolated from human bone marrow, adipose and gingival tissues were used for in-vitro cell migration, motility and wound healing assays in the presence or absence of IL-3. The effect of IL-3 preconditioning on expression of chemokine receptors and integrins was examined by flow cytometry and real-time PCR. The in-vivo migration of IL-3-preconditioned MSCs was investigated using a subcutaneous matrigel-releasing stromal cell-derived factor-1 alpha (SDF-1α) model in immunocompromised mice.


We observed that human MSCs isolated from all three sources express IL-3 receptor-α (IL-3Rα) both at gene and protein levels. IL-3 significantly enhances in-vitro migration, motility and wound healing abilities of MSCs. Moreover, IL-3 preconditioning upregulates expression of chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 4 (CXCR4) on MSCs, which leads to increased migration of cells towards SDF-1α. Furthermore, CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100 decreases the migration of IL-3-treated MSCs towards SDF-1α. Importantly, IL-3 also induces in-vivo migration of MSCs towards subcutaneously implanted matrigel-releasing-SDF-1α in immunocompromised mice.


The present study demonstrates for the first time that IL-3 has an important role in enhancing the migration of human MSCs through regulation of the CXCR4/SDF-1α axis. These findings suggest a potential role of IL-3 in improving the efficacy of MSCs in regenerative cell therapy.


CXCR4; Cell migration; Interleukin-3; Mesenchymal stem cells; SDF-1α

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