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Cell Prolif. 2019 Apr 5:e12595. doi: 10.1111/cpr.12595. [Epub ahead of print]

Human dental pulp stem cells regulate allogeneic NK cells' function via induction of anti-inflammatory purinergic signalling in activated NK cells.

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Xiangya Stomatological Hospital and School of Stomatology, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China.
Beijing Key Laboratory of Tooth Regeneration and Function Reconstruction, Capital Medical University School of Stomatology, Beijing, China.
Department of Oncology, The Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China.



Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could regulate the function of various immune cells. It remains unclear whether MSCs additionally possess immunostimulatory properties. We investigated the impact of human MSCs on the responsiveness of primary natural killer (NK) cells in terms of induction of anti-inflammatory purinergic signalling.


We obtained human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs) and dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs). NK cells were isolated from peripheral blood of healthy volunteers. Activated NK cells were cultured with MSCs. Proliferation assay, apoptosis analysis, activating or inhibitory receptor expression and degranulation assay were used to explore NK cells' function. High-performance liquid chromatography was used to investigate the purinergic signalling in activated NK cells.


Both DPSCs and BMMSCs could impair proliferation and promote apoptosis of activated NK cells. Also, activated NK cells could cause DPSCs to lyse. Furthermore, the expression of activating NK cells' receptors was decreased, but inhibitory receptors of NK cells were elevated following co-cultivation. NK cells acquired CD73 expression, while MSCs could release ATP into the extracellular space where nucleotides were converted into adenosine (ADO) following co-culture system. Under the existence of exogenous 2-chloroadenosine (CADO), the cytotoxic capacity of NK cells was remarkably depressed in a concentration-dependent manner.


DPSCs and BMMSCs could depress NK cells' function by hydrolysing ATP to ADO using CD39 and CD73 enzymatic activity. Our data suggested that DPSCs might represent a new strategy for treating immune-related diseases by regulating previously unrecognized functions in innate immune responses.


CD73; adenosine; dental pulp stem cells; immunoregulatory; natural killer cells; purinergic signalling


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