Phenotypic and functional characterization of mesenchymal stromal cells isolated from pediatric patients with severe idiopathic nephrotic syndrome

Nadia Starc, Min Li, Mattia Algeri, Antonella Conforti, Luigi Tomao, Angela Pitisci, Francesco Emma, Giovanni Montini, Piergiorgio Messa, Franco Locatelli, Maria Ester Bernardo, Marina Vivarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS) is one of the most common renal diseases in the pediatric population; considering the role of the immune system in its pathogenesis, corticosteroids are used as first-line immunosuppressive treatment. Due to its chronic nature and tendency to relapse, a significant proportion of children experience co-morbidity due to prolonged exposure to corticosteroids and concomitant immunosuppression with second-line, steroid-sparing agents. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells that represent a key component of the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment; given their unique immunoregulatory properties, their clinical use may be exploited as an alternative therapeutic approach in INS treatment. Methods: In view of the possibility of exploiting their immunoregulatory properties, we performed a phenotypical and functional characterization of MSCs isolated from BM of five INS patients (INS-MSCs; median age, 13 years; range, 11-16 years) in comparison with MSCs isolated from eight healthy donors (HD-MSCs). MSCs were expanded ex vivo and then analyzed for their properties. Results: Morphology, proliferative capacity, immunophenotype and differentiation potential did not differ between INS-MSCs and HD-MSCs. In an allogeneic setting, INS-MSCs were able to prevent both T- and B-cell proliferation and plasma-cell differentiation. In an in-vitro model of experimental damage to podocytes, co-culture with INS-MSCs appeared to be protective. Discussion: Our results demonstrate that INS-MSCs maintain the main biological and functional properties typical of HD-MSCs; these data suggest that MSCs may be used in autologous cellular therapy approaches for INS treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-334
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Bone marrow niche
  • Idiopathic nephrotic syndrome
  • Immunomodulatory properties
  • Mesenchymal stromal cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation
  • Cancer Research


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