Bone marrow stromal cells inhibit mast cell function via a COX2-dependent mechanism


Jared M. Brown, Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, NIAID, NIH, Building 10, Rm 11C207, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Cite this as: J. M. Brown, K. Nemeth, N. M. Kushnir-Sukhov, D. D. Metcalfe and E. Mezey, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2011 (41) 526–534.


Background Mast cells (MCs) have a central role in the induction of allergic inflammation, such as seen in asthma, and contribute to the severity of certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The MC thus represents an important inflammatory cell, and one which has resisted therapeutic attempts to alter its role in disease.

Objective Because bone marrow-derived stromal cells (BMSC, also known as mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs) have been reported to alter allergic inflammation in vivo, we chose to study the interaction between mouse BMSC and mouse bone marrow-derived MCs.

Methods MC degranulation, cytokine production and chemotaxis were evaluated in vitro following co-culture with BMSCs either in cell contact or a transwell. In addition, MC degranulation was assessed in vivo following administration of BMSCs in a model of passive cutaneous anaphylaxis and a peritoneal degranulation assay. Mechanisms of MC suppression by BMSCs were determined through use of inhibitors or antibodies to COX1, COX2, nitric oxide, indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase, EP1–4 receptors, TGF-β and IL-10. Lastly, we utilized either BMSCs or MCs deficient in COX1, COX2 or EP1-4 receptors to confirm the mechanisms of inhibition of MC function by BMSCs.

Results We discovered that BMSCs will effectively suppress specific MC functions in vitro as well as in vivo. When MCs are cocultured with BMSCs to allow cell-to-cell contact, BMSCs suppressed MC degranulation, pro-inflammatory cytokine production, chemokinesis and chemotaxis. Similarly, MC degranulation within mouse skin or the peritoneal cavity was suppressed following in vivo administration of BMSCs. Further, we found that these inhibitory effects were dependent on up-regulation of COX2 in BMSCs; and were facilitated through the activation of EP4 receptors on MCs.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance These observations support the concept that BMSCs have the ability to suppress MC activation and therefore could be the basis for a novel cell based therapeutic approach in the treatment of MC driven inflammatory diseases.