Macrophages modulate the viability and growth of human mesenchymal stem cells


  • Donald O. Freytes and Jung W. Kang contributed equally to this study.


Following myocardial infarction, tissue repair is mediated by the recruitment of monocytes and their subsequent differentiation into macrophages. Recent findings have revealed the dynamic changes in the presence of polarized macrophages with pro-inflammatory (M1) and anti-inflammatory (M2) properties during the early (acute) and late (chronic) stages of cardiac ischemia. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) delivered into the injured myocardium as reparative cells are subjected to the effects of polarized macrophages and the inflammatory milieu. The present study investigated how cytokines and polarized macrophages associated with pro-inflammatory (M1) and anti-inflammatory (M2) responses affect the survival of MSCs. Human MSCs were studied using an in vitro platform with individual and combined M1 and M2 cytokines: IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, and IFN-γ (for M1), and IL-10, TGF-β1, TGF-β3, and VEGF (for M2). In addition, polarization molecules (M1: LPS and IFN-γ; M2: IL-4 and IL-13) and common chemokines (SDF-1 and MCP-1) found during inflammation were also studied. Indirect and direct co-cultures were conducted using M1 and M2 polarized human THP-1 monocytes. M2 macrophages and their associated cytokines supported the growth of hMSCs, while M1 macrophages and their associated cytokines inhibited the growth of hMSCs in vitro under certain conditions. These data imply that an anti-inflammatory (M2) environment is more accommodating to the therapeutic hMSCs than a pro-inflammatory (M1) environment at specific concentrations. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 220–229, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.