Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Derived Molecules Reverse Fulminant Hepatic Failure
Modulation of the immune system may be a viable alternative in the treatment of fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) and can potentially eliminate the need for donor hepatocytes for cellular therapies. Multipotent bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to inhibit the function of various immune cells by undefined paracrine mediators in vitro. Yet, the therapeutic potential of MSC-derived molecules has not been tested in immunological conditions in vivo. Herein, we report that the administration of MSC-derived molecules in two clinically relevant forms-intravenous bolus of conditioned medium (MSC-CM) or extracorporeal perfusion with a bioreactor containing MSCs (MSC-EB)-can provide a significant survival benefit in rats undergoing FHF. We observed a cell mass-dependent reduction in mortality that was abolished at high cell numbers indicating a therapeutic window. Histopathological analysis of liver tissue after MSC-CM treatment showed dramatic reduction of panlobular leukocytic infiltrates, hepatocellular death and bile duct duplication. Furthermore, we demonstrate using computed tomography of adoptively transferred leukocytes that MSC-CM functionally diverts immune cells from the injured organ indicating that altered leukocyte migration by MSC-CM therapy may account for the absence of immune cells in liver tissue. Preliminary analysis of the MSC secretome using a protein array screen revealed a large fraction of chemotactic cytokines, or chemokines. When MSC-CM was fractionated based on heparin binding affinity, a known ligand for all chemokines, only the heparin-bound eluent reversed FHF indicating that the active components of MSC-CM reside in this fraction. These data provide the first experimental evidence of the medicinal use of MSC-derived molecules in the treatment of an inflammatory condition and support the role of chemokines and altered leukocyte migration as a novel therapeutic modality for FHF.