Splenic involvement in umbilical cord matrix-derived mesenchymal stromal cell-mediated effects following traumatic spinal cord injury

Anna Badner, Justin Hacker, James Hong, Mirriam Mikhail, Reaz Vawda, Michael G Fehlings
Journal of Neuroinflammation2018
Background: The spleen plays an important role in erythrocyte turnover, adaptive immunity, antibody production, and the mobilization of monocytes/macrophages (Mφ) following tissue injury. In response to trauma, the spleen initiates production of inflammatory cytokines, which in turn recruit immune cells to the inflamed tissue, exacerbating damage. Our previous work has shown that intravenous mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) infusion has potent immunomodulatory effects following spinal cord injury (SCI), associated with the transplanted cells homing to and persisting within the spleen. Therefore, this work aimed to characterize the relationship between the splenic inflammatory response and SCI pathophysiology, emphasizing splenic involvement in MSC-mediated effects. Methods: Using a rodent model of cervical clip-compression SCI, secondary tissue damage and functional recovery were compared between splenectomised rodents and those with a sham procedure. Subsequently, 2.5 million MSCs from the term human umbilical cord matrix cells (HUCMCs) were infused via tail vein at 1-h post-SCI and the effects were assessed in the presence or absence of a spleen. Results: Splenectomy alone had no effect on lesion volume, hemorrhage, or inflammation. There was also no significant difference between the groups in functional recovery and those in lesion morphometry. Yet, while the infusion of HUCMCs reduced spinal cord hemorrhage and increased systemic levels of IL-10 in the presence of a spleen, these effects were lost with splenectomy. Further, HUCMC infusion was shown to alter the expression levels of splenic cytokines, suggesting that the spleen is an important target and site of MSC effects. Conclusions: Our results provide a link between MSC function and splenic inflammation, a finding that can help tailor the cells/transplantation approach to enhance therapeutic efficacy.

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