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Bone marrow stem cells may help control inflammatory bowel disease
Date:8/20/2008

ells, which suppress the activity of self-reactive immune cells, resulting in overwhelming autoimmune disease. The mice were treated with infusions of either MSCs or regulatory T cells, and a week later the researchers examined the effects on tissues from the pancreas, the liver and the distal ileum the lower end of the small intestine which are usually attacked by autoimmune reactions.

While little improvement was seen in the pancreatic or liver tissue, in four of the six MSC-treated mice, intestinal tissues appeared almost identical to those of normal mice. Structural defects seen in the intestinal lining of untreated autoimmune mice had disappeared in the MSC-treated mice, an improvement seen in only one of six mice treated with regulatory T cells.

Analysis of the animal's lymph nodes revealed that MSC treatment produced a significant reduction in inflammation. Surprisingly, cell-tracking studies indicated that the MSCs which were administered by infusion into the peritoneum, the membrane lining the abdominal cavity moved into abdominal lymph nodes rather than to the intestine itself. The presence of MSCs was associated with a reduction of activated T cells and changes in other indicators of immune system activity, indicating suppression of the out-of-control immune reaction.

"The intestine may be an ideal site for MSC therapy, given its rapid ability to regrow tissue and its extensive local supply of lymph nodes; and the route by which the cells were administered may have ensured a greater amount of engraftment in gut-associated lymph nodes," explains Martin Yarmush, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine and senior author of the study. "Before we can think about testing this approach in patients, we need to know more about long-term effects of MSC infusion including immunosuppressive effects and gain more understanding of how MSCs modulate immune cell activity in more realistic models of inflamm
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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