Mesenchymal stem cells and adaptive immune responses

Wei Cao, Kai Cao, Jianchang Cao, Ying Wang, Yufang Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, our understanding of the regulatory role of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in adaptive immune responses through both preclinical and clinical studies has dramatically expanded, providing great promise for treating various inflammatory diseases. Most studies are focused on the modulatory effects of these cells on the properties of T cell-mediated immune responses, including activation, proliferation, survival, and subset differentiation. Interestingly, the immunosuppressive function of MSCs was found to be licensed by IFN-γ and TNF-α produced by T cells and that can be further amplified by cytokines such as IL-17. However, the immunosuppressive function of MSCs can be reversed in certain situation, such as suboptimal levels of inflammatory cytokines, or in the presence of immunosuppressive molecules. Here we review the influence of MSCs on adaptive immune system, especially their bidirectional interaction in tuning the immune microenvironment and subsequently repairing damaged tissue. Understanding MSC-mediated regulation of T cells is expected to provide fundamental information for guiding appropriate applications of MSCs in clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-153
Number of pages7
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


  • Adaptive immune responses
  • Immunoregulation
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Plasticity


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