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Mesenchymal stem cells, autoimmunity and rheumatoid arthritis

The vast majority of literature pertaining to mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) immunomodulation has focussed on bone marrow-derived MSC that are systemically infused to alleviate inflammatory conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the commonest autoimmune joint disease that has witnessed significant therapeutic advances in the past decade, but remains stubbornly difficult to treat in a subset of cases. Pre-clinical research has demonstrated that bone marrow, adipose, synovial and umbilical cord-derived MSC all suppress the functions of different immune cells thus raising the possibility of new therapies for autoimmune diseases including RA. Indeed, preliminary evidence for MSC efficacy has been reported in some cases of RA and systemic lupus erythromatosis. The potential use of bone marrow-MSC (BM-MSC) for RA therapy is emerging but the use of synovial MSC (S-MSC) to suppress the exaggerated immune response within the inflamed joints remains rudimentary. Synovial fibroblasts that are likely derived from S-MSCs, also give rise to a cell-cultured progeny termed fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS), which are key players in the perpetuation of joint inflammation and destruction. A better understanding of the link between these cells and their biology could be a key to developing novel MSC-based strategies for therapy. The review briefly focuses on BM-MSC and gives particular attention to joint niche synovial MSC and FLS with respect to immunoregulatory potential therapy roles.

URL: http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/03/05/qjmed.hcu033.short