Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the joints: the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints, causing pain, stiffness and inflammation.
In this pre-clinical study, researchers used a model of RA in rats and injected them with mesenchymal stem cells derived from human umbilical cord (UC-MSC). After assessing the state of their joints following treatment, the animals were dissected to study their levels of inflammatory cytokines, lymphocytes, and other relevant markers, compared to the control group who didn’t receive UC-MSC, and another group who was treated with methotrexate (MTX). The joints of rats treated with UC-MSC did better than those in the other two groups. This, coupled with the fact that UC-MSC were found to regulate inflammatory cytokines as well as MTX in rats, leads the researchers to conclude that UC-MSC may have a broader application prospect than MTX for RA treatment.
Additionally, they extracted blood from 6 RA patients and cultured them in the lab alongside UC-MSC. After observing their interactions, they concluded that that UC-MSC play an immunoregulatory role by balancing Treg/Th17 and inflammatory factors in RA patients.
Treating RA in humans with UC-MSC safely and efficiently is well supported by studies such as this one – we’ll undoubtedly be seeing more articles on this subject in the next months.
Immunomodulatory effect of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells on T lymphocytes in rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease which is lack of effective therapies. Abnormal activation, proliferation, and differentiation of T lymphocytes are closely related to RA. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be used for RA treatment due to their immunoregulatory effects. However, the specific molecular mechanisms have not been fully elucidated and the therapeutic effect has been inconsistent. This study investigated the immunomodulatory effect of human umbilical cord MSCs (hUCMSCs) on T lymphocytes in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) rats and RA patients to clarify the possible mechanism of hUCMSCs in RA treatment. The effects of hUCMSCs on arthritis index, radiological and synovial pathological changes, T lymphocyte proliferation and apoptosis, RORγt and Foxp3 expression, Th17 and Treg cell ratios, and IL-17 and TGF-β levels were assessed in CIA rats. Further, we verified the effect of hUCMSCs in RA patients, and compared the effect of hUCMSCs with that of hUCMSC derived extracellular vesicles (EVs). The results showed that hUCMSCs inhibited the proliferation and promoted apoptosis in T lymphocytes, downregulated RORγt mRNA and protein expression, decreased Th17 cell ratio, upregulated Foxp3 mRNA and protein expression, and increased Treg cell ratio in the spleen. Furthermore, they downregulated RORγt and Foxp3 expression in the joints, and inhibited IL-17 and promoted TGF-β expression in the serum, thereby improving arthritis, delaying radiological progression, and inhibiting synovial hyperplasia in CIA rats. In vitro the effects of hUCMSCs and EVs were consistent with those in vivo. Therefore, hUCMSCs may be expected to serve as a new therapy for RA.
PMID: 31295689 DOI: 10.1016/j.intimp.2019.105687