BACKGROUND: In addition to its abundance and easy accessibility, adipose tissue yields more potent immunoregulatory stem cells (adipose tissue-derived stem cells, ADSCs) than does bone marrow. However, the beneficial effects of ADSCs on alloreactivity are scarcely known. This study evaluated the beneficial effects of ADSCs in rat kidney transplantation and analyzed the underlying molecular mechanism. METHODS: Dark Agouti rat kidneys were transplanted into Lewis rats. Autologous ADSCs (2×10) were injected through the left renal artery of the donors before the nephrectomy (ADSCs group). Graft survival, histologic changes, and the expression of several cytokines and proteins were assessed. In an in vitro experiment, the immunosuppressive capacity of ADSCs was tested in a mixed lymphocyte reaction. RESULTS: Histologic findings of the ADSCs group revealed a reduced rejection grade, whereas the number of infiltrated CD4/CD8 T cells was also significantly decreased as compared to the control. Relative to these findings, injection of ADSCs led to a significantly prolonged mean graft survival compared with the control. In vitro, autologous ADSCs dose-dependently suppressed alloreactive lymphocytes. Moreover, ADSCs increased the level of tumor necrosis factor-inducible gene 6 protein (TSG-6) in mixed lymphocyte reaction, which has an anti-inflammatory capacity. Recombinant TSG-6 markedly suppressed alloreactive T cells through downregulating CD44, which may lead to the suppression of T-cell activation and infiltration into allografts. CONCLUSION: Our findings clearly showed that ADSCs attenuated acute rejection by secreting TSG-6 as well as through direct cell interaction. These findings contribute to the clinical application of these cells in solid organ transplantation.
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