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vol. 53

Editorial paper
Mesenchymal stem cells – a new therapeutic option for rheumatic diseases?

Ewa Kontny

Reumatologia 2015; 53, 1: 1–2
Online publish date: 2015/04/10
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Adult stem cells, named mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are multipotent cells of mesodermal origin present in diverse tissues and organs, including bone marrow and adipose tissue – the richest source of MSCs. Resident MSCs sense and respond to changes in the local microenvironment, such as injury and inflammation. Having regenerative properties and potent immunoregulatory activity, MSCs contribute to normal turnover and maintenance of mesenchymal tissues. These features make MSCs good therapeutic candidates for the treatment of various diseases. In contrast to embryonic stem cells, clinical application of which is limited because of ethical concerns and possible teratoma formation, MSCs can be used therapeutically without these restrictions.
Mesenchymal stem cells were first isolated from bone marrow in 1974, and 25 years later they were shown to possess the ability to self-renew and to differentiate toward various cell types of mesodermal lineage (adipocytes, osteoblasts, chondrocytes). Upon appropriate conditions MSCs are also able to differentiate in vitro into cells of ectodermal (epithelial cells, neuroglial-like cells) and endodermal (muscle cells, lung cells, gut epithelial cells, hepatocyte-like cells) origin. These progenitor cells express stromal surface markers (CD76, CD90, CD105), but not markers of hematopoietic lineage. Because MSCs do not express major histocompatibility (MHC) class II and only few MHC class I molecules, they are hardly recognized by the immune system and can be safely transplanted not only in autologous but also in allogeneic ways [1]. In addition, MSCs demonstrate interesting immunoregulatory properties. These cells exert widespread modulatory effects on cells of both innate and adaptive immunity, including inhibition of T cell proliferation and proinflammatory cytokine secretion, inhibition of B cell chemotaxis, function and differentiation, inhibition of dendritic cell development and antigen presenting function, impairment of cytotoxic capabilities of natural killer cells, as well as promotion of regulatory T cell (Treg) development and anti-inflammatory IL-10 production. Various mechanisms mediating these immunoregulatory properties of MSC have been described, e.g. cell-to-cell contact between MSCs and target cells, release of numerous growth factors and cytokines as well as activity of enzymes (e.g. dioxygenase indoleamine – IDO, heme oxygenase 1) [1, 2].
Owing to these unique features and...

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