Introduction: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the ability to repair and regenerate tissue, home to sites of inflammation, and evade the host immune system. As such, they represent an attractive therapy for the treatment of autoimmune inflammatory diseases. However, results from in vivo murine studies in inflammatory arthritis have been conflicting, and this may be due to the genetic background of the MSCs used. It is known that the inflammatory milieu may influence properties of MSCs and that, in the case of human bone marrow-derived MSCs, this may be mediated by the nuclear factor-kappa-B (NF-kappa B) pathway. We sought to determine whether pro-inflammatory cytokines altered the differentiation and migration capacity of murine MSCs from different mouse strains and whether this was mediated by NF-kappa B.
Methods: The differentiation and migration of FVB and BALB/c MSCs were carried out in the presence of varying concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) and interleukin (IL)-1 beta, and the NF-kappa B pathway was inhibited in one of two ways: either by transduction of MSCs with an adenoviral vector expressing a super-repressor of NF-kappa B or by the addition of curcumin to culture media.
Results: Both BALB/c and FVB MSCs were sensitive to the effect of pro-inflammatory cytokines in vitro. TNF alpha and IL-1 beta suppressed BALB/c osteogenesis and adipogenesis and FVB osteogenesis. The migration of both cell types toward media containing fetal bovine serum was augmented by pre-stimulation with either cytokine. In neither cell type were the cytokine effects reversed by abrogation of the NF-kappa B pathway.
Conclusions: These data show that murine MSCs from different genetic backgrounds may be influenced by an inflammatory milieu in a manner that is not mediated by NF-kappa B, as is the case for human MSCs. This is not mediated by NF-kappa B. These findings are important and should influence how in vivo trials of murine MSCs are interpreted and the future development of pre-clinical studies in inflammatory diseases.