• Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Stem cell-microenvironment interactions;
  • Differentiation;
  • Cancer;
  • Cytokines


An inflammatory microenvironment may cause organ degenerative diseases and malignant tumors. However, the precise mechanisms of inflammation-induced diseases are not fully understood. Here, we show that the proinflammatory cytokines interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) synergistically impair self-renewal and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) via nuclear factor κB (NFκB)-mediated activation of mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 7 (SMAD7) in ovariectomized (OVX) mice. More interestingly, a long-term elevated levels of IFN-γ and TNF-α result in significantly increased susceptibility to malignant transformation in MSCs through NFκB-mediated upregulation of the oncogenes c-Fos and c-Myc. Depletion of either IFN-γ or TNF-α in OVX mice abolishes MSC impairment and the tendency toward malignant transformation with no NFκB-mediated oncogene activation. Systemic administration of aspirin, which significantly reduces the levels of IFN-γ and TNF-α, results in blockage of MSC deficiency and tumorigenesis by inhibition of NFκB/SMAD7 and NFκB/c-FOS and c-MYC pathways in OVX mice. In summary, this study reveals that inflammation factors, such as IFN-γ and TNF-α, synergistically induce MSC deficiency via NFκB/SMAD7 signaling and tumorigenesis via NFκB-mediated oncogene activation. STEM Cells2013;31:1383–1395