Antigen-presenting property of mesenchymal stem cells occurs during a narrow window at low levels of interferon-γ

Jennifer L. Chan, Katherine C. Tang, Anoop P. Patel, Larissa M. Bonilla, Nicola Pierobon, Nicholas M. Ponzio, Pranela Rameshwar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

350 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are mostly found around the vasculature system of the adult bone marrow (BM). They function as immune suppressors, express MHC-II, are phagocytic, and support T-cell cytotoxicity. We hypothesize that these contradictory properties of MSCs are important for BM homeostasis and occur partly through antigen presentation (antigen-presenting cells [APCs]) within a narrow window. Indeed, we have verified APC functions of MSCs to recall antigens, Candida albicans and Tetanus toxoid. The target cells have been identified to be CD4+ T cells. APC assays with IFNγ-knockdown MSCs and with anti-IFNγ receptor confirmed that MHC-II expression requires autocrine stimulation by IFNγ. During APC functions, as IFNγ levels become elevated, there was a concomitant decrease in MHC-II on MSCs. This observation was correlated with flow cytometry studies showing a gradual decrease in MHC-II expression as IFNγ levels were increased. The reduced levels of MHC-II correlated with losses in their allogeneic potential, as indicated in mixed lymphocyte reaction. In summary, endogenous and low levels of IFNγ are required for MHC-II expression on MSCs, and for APC functions. APC functions occur during a narrow window before IFNγ levels are increased. The study has implications for BM protection against infection and exacerbated inflammatory responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4817-4824
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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