Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) suppress T-cell and dendritic-cell function and represent a promising strategy for cell therapy of autoimmune diseases. Nevertheless, no information is currently available on the effects of hMSCs on B cells, which may have a large impact on the clinical use of these cells. hMSCs isolated from the bone marrow and B cells purified from the peripheral blood of healthy donors were cocultured with different B-cell tropic stimuli. B-cell proliferation was inhibited by hMSCs through an arrest in the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle and not through the induction of apoptosis. A major mechanism of B-cell suppression was hMSC production of soluble factors, as indicated by transwell experiments. hMSCs inhibited B-cell differentiation because IgM, IgG, and IgA production was significantly impaired. CXCR4, CXCR5, and CCR7 B-cell expression, as well as chemotaxis to CXCL12, the CXCR4 ligand, and CXCL13, the CXCR5 ligand, were significantly down-regulated by hMSCs, suggesting that these cells affect chemotactic properties of B cells. B-cell costimulatory molecule expression and cytokine production were unaffected by hMSCs. These results further support the potential therapeutic use of hMSCs in immune-mediated disorders, including those in which B cells play a major role.
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