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Cytotherapy. 2018 Dec;20(12):1437-1444. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2018.10.002. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

Immunogenic potential of human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells is enhanced by hyperthermia.

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Adult Stem Cell Section, National Institute of Craniofacial and Dental Research, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Adult Stem Cell Section, National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Genomics and Computational Biology Core, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Adult Stem Cell Section, National Institute of Craniofacial and Dental Research, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Electronic address:



Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have been reported to suppress T-cell proliferation and used to alleviate the symptoms of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). MSCs are a mixed cell population and at this time there are no tools to isolate the cells responsible for the T-cell suppression. We wanted to find a way to enhance the immune-modulatory actions of MSCs and tried varying the temperature at which they were cultured.


We cultured human MSCs derived from healthy volunteers at different temperatures and tested their ability to switch macrophage character from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory (M1 type to M2 type). Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), we showed that when MSCs are cultured at higher temperatures their ability to induce co-cultured macrophages to produce more interleukin-10, (IL-10) (an anti-inflammatory cytokine) and less tumor necrosis factor alpha, (TNFα) (a pro-inflammatory cytokine) is increased. We performed Western blots and immunocytochemistry to screen for changes that might underlie this effect.


We found that in hyperthermia the heat shock protein, HSF1, translocated into the nucleus of MSCs. It appears to induce the COX2/PGE2 (Cyclooxygenase2/Prostaglandin E2) pathway described earlier as a major mechanism of MSC-directed immune-suppression.


Hyperthermia increases the efficacy of MSC-driven immune-suppression. We propose that changing the time of MSC administration to patients to mid-to-late afternoon when the body temperature is naturally highest might be beneficial. Warming the patient could also be considered.


M2); high temperature; human bone marrow stromal cells; mesenchymal stromal cells; priming mesenchymal stromal cells; pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophages (M1


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