Inflammatory cytokines-stimulated human muscle stem cells ameliorate ulcerative colitis via the IDO-TSG6 axis

Shengchao Zhang, Jiankai Fang, Zhanhong Liu, Pengbo Hou, Lijuan Cao, Yuyan Zhang, Rui Liu, Yanan Li, Qianwen Shang, Yongjing Chen, Chao Feng, Guan Wang, Gerry Melino, Ying Wang, Changshun Shao, Yufang Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Muscle stem cells (MuSCs) are absolutely required for the formation, repair, and regeneration of skeletal muscle tissue. Increasing evidence demonstrated that tissue stem cells, especially mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), can exert therapeutic effects on various degenerative and inflammatory disorders based on their immunoregulatory properties. Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) treated with interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were reported to possess anti-inflammatory functions by producing TNF-stimulated gene 6 (TSG-6). However, whether human muscle stem cells (hMuSCs) also possess TSG-6 mediated anti-inflammatory functions has not been explored. Methods: The ulcerative colitis mouse model was established by subjecting mice to dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) in drinking water for 7 days. hMuSCs were pretreated with IFN-γ and TNF-α for 48 h and were then transplanted intravenously at day 2 of DSS administration. Body weights were monitored daily. Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and TSG-6 in hMuSCs were knocked down with short hairpin RNA (shRNA) and small interfering RNA (siRNA), respectively. Colon tissues were collected for length measurement and histopathological examination. The serum level of IL-6 in mice was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Real-time PCR and Western blot analysis were performed to evaluate gene expression. Results: hMuSCs treated with inflammatory factors significantly ameliorated inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms. IDO and TSG-6 were greatly upregulated and required for the beneficial effects of hMuSCs on IBD. Mechanistically, the tryptophan metabolites, kynurenine (KYN) or kynurenic acid (KYNA) produced by IDO, augmented the expression of TSG-6 through activating their common receptor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). Conclusion: Inflammatory cytokines-treated hMuSCs can alleviate DSS-induced colitis through IDO-mediated TSG-6 production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number50
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Cell Biology


  • Aryl hydrocarbon receptor
  • Human muscle stem cells
  • Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kynurenic acid
  • Kynurenine
  • TNF-stimulated gene 6


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