Mesenchymal stem cells as immunomodulators after liver transplantation



Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are promising candidate cells for immunomodulation therapy that are currently being tested in the preclinical and clinical setting. MSCs suppress the immune response in a variety of in vitro and disease models and may thus be of benefit for patients suffering from autoimmune disorders or transplant rejection. The mechanism by which MSCs modulate the immune response is still under thorough investigation, but it most likely involves expression of local factors such as indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and others as well as interactions with dendritic or antigen-presenting cells. Although MSCs have been evaluated in clinical phase I and II studies for graft-versus-host disease and heart, kidney, and bone disease, their introduction into solid organ transplantation is still eagerly awaited. In this short review, we summarize the current understanding of immunomodulation achieved by MSC therapies and introduce a possible outline for a clinical study that will use MSCs in the context of a calcineurin inhibitor–free induction protocol after liver transplantation. Liver Transpl 15:1192–1198, 2009. © 2009 AASLD.