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Mesenchymal Stem Cells Decrease M1/M2 Ratio and Alleviate Inflammation to Improve Limb Ischemia in Mice

Ye Song, Tian-Jie Zhang, Yuan Li, Yuan Gao

Department of Ultrasound Medicine, The Affiliated Zhoupu Hospital, Shanghai University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Shanghai, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e923287

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.923287

Available online: 2020-06-26

Published: 2020-08-29

BACKGROUND: Limb ischemia (LI) is the underlying pathology of peripheral artery disease (PAD). Macrophages play a critical role in inflammation and can contribute to the exacerbation or reduction of inflammation. Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is an emerging therapeutic strategy for PAD. However, the mechanism by which human placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells (PMSCs) regulate macrophage differentiation in ischemic tissue remains unclear.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Placentas were obtained from healthy donors with normal 38- to 40-week gestation, and PMSCs were isolated from the placentas and cultured. A mouse model of hind-limb ischemia was established. Ischemic limbs were injected intramuscularly with about 5×10⁶ PMSCs in the PMSCs group or a placebo solution (phosphate-buffered saline) in the control group at 4 different sites 1 day after the procedure. The blood perfusion of hind-limbs and the histological morphology were observed at day 1, 7, and 14 after the surgical procedure. Macrophages were detected by flow cytometry. The expression of serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-10 were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The expression of CD31 and smooth muscle alpha-actin (alpha-SMA) in frozen muscle samples were detected by immunofluorescence staining.
RESULTS: In the PMSCs group, blood perfusion was gradually recovered and ischemic injury was markedly alleviated. The percentage of M2-like macrophages was increased dramatically, while the M1/M2 macrophage ratio was reduced. The expression of TNF-alpha and IL-6 was reduced, while the IL-10 level was elevated. The expression and density of CD31- and alpha-SMA-positive vessels were both significantly increased.
CONCLUSIONS: Transplanted PMSCs alleviated inflammation, promoted neovascularization, and improved hind limb ischemia through regulating macrophage differentiation toward the M2 phenotype and cytokine secretion. Cytokine manipulation of macrophage phenotypes may have potential therapeutic benefits in injured ischemic limbs.

Keywords: Inflammation, Macrophages, mesenchymal stromal cells, Neovascularization, Pathologic, peripheral arterial disease