Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are useful in tissue repair but also possess immunomodulatory properties. Murine and uncontrolled human trials suggest efficacy of MSCs in treating lupus. Autologous cells are preferable; however, recent studies suggest that lupus-derived MSCs lack efficacy in treating disease. Thus, the optimum derivation of MSCs for use in lupus is unknown. It is also unknown which invitro assays of MSC function predict invivo efficacy. The objectives for this study were to provide insight into the optimum source of MSCs and to identify invitro assays that predict invivo efficacy. We derived MSCs from four umbilical cords, four healthy bone marrows (BMs), and four lupus BMs. In diseased MRL/lpr mice, MSCs from healthy BM and umbilical cords significantly decreased renal disease, whereas lupus BM MSCs only delayed disease. Current in vitro assays did not differentiate efficacy of the different MSCs. However, differences in MSC efficacy were observed in B cell proliferation assays. Our results suggest that autologous MSCs from lupus patients are not effective in treating disease. Furthermore, standard in vitro assays for MSC licensing are not predictive of in vivo efficacy, whereas inhibiting B cell proliferation appears to differentiate effective MSCs from ineffective MSCs.
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