Human Wharton's jelly-derived mesenchymal stromal cells engineered to secrete Epstein-Barr virus interleukin-10 show enhanced immunosuppressive properties.
Quaranta P., Focosi D., Di Iesu M., Cursi C., Zucca A., Curcio M., Lapi S., Boldrini L., Stampacchia G., Paolicchi A., Scatena F., Freer G., Pistello M.
BACKGROUND AIMS: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) modulate the immune response and represent a potential treatment for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. We hypothesized that this feature could be potentiated by co-administering anti-inflammatory cytokines. In this article, we asked whether engineering of Wharton Jelly-derived human MSCs (WJ-hMSCs) to express an anti-inflammatory cytokine increases cell immunomodulatory properties without altering their native features. METHODS: We used Epstein-Barr virus-derived interleukin-10 (vIL-10), which shares some immunosuppressive properties with human IL-10 but lacks immunostimulatory activity. Engineering was accomplished by transducing WJ-hMSCs with a self-inactivating feline immunodeficiency virus-derived vector co-expressing vIL-10 and herpes simplex virus type-1 thymidine kinase (TK). TK was added to allow future tracking of WJ-hMSC in vivo by positron electron tomography (PET). RESULTS: The results show that (i) expression of TK and/or vIL-10 does not change WJ-hMSC phenotypic and functional properties; (ii) vIL-10 is secreted, biologically active and enhances the immunosuppressing functions of WJ-hMSCs; (iii) v-IL10 and TK can be produced simultaneously by the same cells and do not interfere with each other. DISCUSSION: WJ-hMSCs engineered to secrete vIL-10 could be a powerful tool for adoptive cell therapy of immune-mediated diseases, and therefore, additional studies are warranted to confirm their efficacy in suitable animal disease models.