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Keywords:

  • in vivo;
  • mesenchymal stem (stromal) cells;
  • pig, genetically engineered;
  • xenotransplantation

Li J, Ezzelarab MB, Cooper DKC. Do mesenchymal stem cells function across species barriers? Relevance for xenotransplantation. Xenotransplantation 2012; 19: 273–285. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Abstract:  Background:  Allogeneic mesenchymal stem (stromal) cells (MSC) are a promising therapy for various pathological conditions. Genetically modified pig MSC have been demonstrated to downregulate the human T-cell response to pig antigens in vitro. Before genetically modified pig MSC can be used clinically, however, evidence needs to be provided to indicate whether they will survive in a human (xenogeneic) host.

Literature Search and Results:  A literature search through the end of 2011 identified 94 reports of the in vivo cross-species administration of MSC in a variety of experimental models. The majority (n = 89) involved the use of human MSC in various other species, with an occasional study using pig, rat, or guinea-pig MSC. When human MSC were used, they were largely derived from the bone marrow, adipose tissue, or umbilical cord blood. The routes of administration were varied, although almost half of the studies utilized the intravenous route. In 88 experiments (93.6%), there was evidence that the MSC engrafted and functioned across the species barrier, and in only six cases (6.4%) was there evidence of failure to function. Importantly, MSC function was confirmed in several different cross-species models. For example, human MSC functioned in no fewer than seven different recipient species.

Conclusions:  The data provided by this literature search strengthen the hypothesis that pig MSC will function satisfactorily in a different species, for example, humans. The data also suggest that our own in vitro observations on the efficacy of pig MSC in downregulating the strength of the human T-cell response to pig antigens will likely be reproduced in vivo in pre-clinical large animal models and in clinical trials.