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Plasticity of mesenchymal stem cells in immunomodulation: pathological and therapeutic implications

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent stromal cells that exist in many tissues and are capable of differentiating into several different cell types. Exogenously administered MSCs migrate to damaged tissue sites, where they participate in tissue repair. Their communication with the inflammatory microenvironment is an essential part of this process. In recent years, much has been learned about the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the interaction between MSCs and various participants in inflammation. Depending on their type and intensity, inflammatory stimuli confer on MSCs the ability to suppress the immune response in some cases or to enhance it in others. Here we review the current findings on the immunoregulatory plasticity of MSCs in disease pathogenesis and therapy.