Stem cells and development

Regulation of mouse microglia activation and effector functions by bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells.

PMID 24870815


Mesenchymal stems or stromal cells (MSCs) are rare multipotent cells with potent regenerative and immunomodulatory properties. Microglial cells (MGs) are specialized tissue macrophages of the central nervous system (CNS) that continuously survey their environment with highly motile extensions. Recently, several studies have shown that MSCs are capable of reprogramming microglia into an "M2-like" phenotype characterized by increased phagocytic activity and upregulated expression of anti-inflammatory mediators in vitro. However, the precise polarization states of microglia in the presence of MSCs under physiological or under inflammatory conditions remain largely unknown. In this study, we found that MSCs induce a mixed microglia phenotype defined as Arg1-high, CD86-high, CD206-high, IL-10-high, PGE2-high, MCP-1/CCL2-high, IL-1β-moderate, NALP-3-low, and TNF-α-low cells. These MSC-elicited MGs have high phagocytic activity and antigen-presenting ability. Lipopolysaccharide is able to shape this microglia phenotype quantitatively, but not qualitatively in the presence of MSCs. This unique polarization state resembles a novel regulatory microglia phenotype, which might contribute to the resolution of inflammation and to tissue repair in the CNS.