Embryonic stem cells, derived either after in vitro fertilization or nuclear transfer, prolong survival of semiallogeneic heart transplants

Barbara Imberti, Federica Casiraghi, Daniela Cugini, Nadia Azzollini, Paola Cassis, Marta Todeschini, Samantha Solini, Vittorio Sebastiano, Maurizio Zuccotti, Silvia Garagna, Carlo Alberto Redi, Marina Noris, Marina Morigi, Giuseppe Remuzzi

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Tolerance induction toward allogeneic organ grafts represents one of the major aims of transplantation medicine. Stem cells are promising candidates for promoting donor-specific tolerance. In this study, we investigated the immunomodulatory properties of murine embryonic stem cells (ESCs), obtained either by in vitro fertilization (IVF-ESCs) or by nuclear transfer (NT-ESCs), in heart transplant mouse models. IVF-ESCs did not prolong the survival of fully allogeneic cardiac transplants but significantly prolonged the survival of semiallogeneic hearts from the same ESC donor strain for >100 d in 44% of the animals. However, 28% of transplanted animals infused with IVF-ESCs experienced development of a teratoma. NT-ESCs similarly prolonged semiallogeneic heart graft survival (>100 d in 40% of the animals) but were less teratogenic. By in vitro studies, IVF-ESC and NT-ESC immunoregulation was mediated both by cell contact-dependent mechanisms and by the release of soluble factors. By adding specific inhibitors, we identified PGE2 as a soluble mediator of ESC immunoregulation. Expansion of regulatory T cells was found in lymphoid organs and in the grafts of IVF-ESC- and NT-ESC-tolerized mice. Our study demonstrates that both IVF-ESCs and NT-ESCs modulate recipient immune response toward tolerance to solid organ transplantation, and that NT-ESCs exhibit a lower tendency for teratoma formation. Because NT-ESCs are obtained by NT of a somatic cell from living individuals into an enucleated oocyte, they could represent a source of donor-derived stem cells to induce tolerance to solid organ allograft.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4164-4174
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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