Open Access

Placenta‑derived mesenchymal stem cells improve airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in asthmatic rats by modulating the Th17/Treg balance

  • Authors:
    • Yingying Li
    • Hongbo Li
    • Yinyin Cao
    • Fuling Wu
    • Wenbin Ma
    • Yuesi Wang
    • Shuzhen Sun
  • View Affiliations

  • Published online on: September 25, 2017
  • Pages:8137-8145
  • Copyright: © Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License.

Metrics: PDF 0 views | HTML 0 views


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) possess reparative and immunoregulatory properties, representing a hope for stem cell‑based treatments. However, the mechanisms by which transplanted MSCs affect T helper (Th)17/regulatory T cell (Treg) balance in asthma patients remain unclear. The aim of the present study was to assess the therapeutic effects of human placenta MSCs (hPMSCs) in asthma, and explore the underlying mechanisms; in addition, the impact of hPMSCs transplantation on Th17/Treg balance in lymph and serum samples from asthmatic animals was evaluated. Sprague‑Dawley rats were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA). Administration of hPMSCs from human placenta resulted in increased Th17 and Treg in lymph samples compared with peripheral blood specimens. Enhanced pause values in OVA‑treated animals were significantly higher than those in the control and hPMSCs treatment groups. The numbers of total cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and eosinophils were markedly increased in the OVA group compared with those of control + hPMSCs and control groups. In addition, interleukin 10, forkhead box P3 (Foxp3) and Treg levels in lymph, peripheral blood and lung tissue samples from asthma rats were increased significantly following hPMSC transplantation. Furthermore, Foxp3 protein levels increased, while those of RAR‑related orphan receptor γ (RORγt) decreased after hPMSCs transplantation compared with the asthma group. Reduced IL‑17, RORγt and Th17 levels were accompanied by reduced inflammatory cell infiltration, sub‑epithelial smooth layer attenuation and mucus production in lung tissues. These results suggest that hPMSCs may improve airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation by regulating the Th17/Treg balance in rats with asthma.


Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disorder characterized by repeated attacks of wheezing, breathlessness, cough and/or chest tightness (1). It currently affects approximately 334 million people worldwide, with China being one of the most afflicted countries, with approximately 30 million asthmatics (2,3). Following antigen exposure, CD4+T cells can differentiate into at least four distinct subsets, including helper T-cell (Th) 1, Th2, Th17 and regulatory T-cells (Treg) (4). The imbalance of Th1 and Th2 cells contributes to the pathogenesis of asthma, constituting a target for preventing and treating this disease (5,6). However, in depth studies indicated that other immunological mechanisms may be involved in regulating the formation of airway inflammation in asthma, including Th17 and Treg cells (7). It has been suggested that reversal of Th17/Treg cell imbalance maybe beneficial for suppressing chronic Th2 cell-mediated inflammation in asthma (810). Corticosteroids, β2-adrenoreceptor agonists and antileukotrienes or leukotriene modifiers are currently used for asthma treatment; whereas novel molecules including IL-5, IL-13, intercellular cell adhesion molecule 1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 have yielded promising effects (11). At present, the symptoms of a significant proportion of asthmatics are poorly controlled, indicating the need for novel therapies.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have gained attention for their potential in treating and inhibiting further development of pulmonary diseases, including bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis, acute lung injury and lipopolysaccharide-induced acute lung injury (12,13). For example, stem cells derived from adipose tissue alleviate allergic airway inflammation and ameliorate lung function by inducing Treg expansion (14). In an experimental model of severe asthma, systemic transfer of bone marrow-derived MSCs (BM-MSCs) resulted in decreased toluene diisocyanate-induced airway inflammation and remodeling, as well as airway hyper-reactivity (15). Compared with BM-MSCs, human placenta MSCs (hPMSCs) are more easily obtained, propagated and differentiated; there are therefore generally available and suitable for large-scale culture in vitro (16,17). Notably, hPMSCs retain immuno-tolerance properties, which are closer to the clinical situation (18). hPMSCs suppress the activation and proliferation of T lymphocytes (18,19).

Several studies have indicated the inhibitory effects of MSCs on Th17 cell differentiation in vivo in asthma models (2023). However, the effects of hPMSCs on Th17 and Treg cells in asthma remain unclear, with no data regarding the immune responses of hPMSCs between the lymphatic system and serum. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to assess the therapeutic value of hPMSCs in asthma, evaluating the impact of their transplantation on Th17/Treg balance in lymph and serum samples from asthmatic animals.

Materials and methods

Animal model

A total of 60 male Sprague-Dawley rats (six-weeks old) were purchased from Shandong Luye Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Yantai, China), and were bred in a specific pathogen-free animal facility. The housing conditions were: Temperature was 18–26°C, relative humidity was between 40–70%, 12-h during the day (8:00-20:00) and 12-h by night (20:00-8:00) cycle mode, the noise was below 85 decibels and the ammonia concentration was below 20 ppm and ventilated 8–12 times/h. The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Binzhou Medical University (Binzhou, China). The asthma rat model was established as previously described (24). Rats were sensitized by hypodermic injection of 200 µg ovalbumin (OVA; Sigma-Aldrich; Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) emulsified in 4 mg aluminum hydroxide in a total volume of 0.2 ml on day 0, 1, 8 and 15, respectively. Asthmatic rats were exposed to 1% OVA (grade V; Sigma-Aldrich; Merck KGaA) in PBS for 30 min in a semi-closed container on day 16, and every day afterwards for 1 week using an ultrasonic nebulizer. On day 22, all rats were sacrificed (Fig. 1).

Isolation and identification of hPMSCs

hPMSCs were harvested from the placental tissue of a healthy pregnant mother following informed consent (obtained at the Binzhou Medical University Hospital, Binzhou, China). The study protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee of Binzhou Medical University). In order to isolate hPMSCs, the placental tissue was washed extensively with PBS, and digested with low glucose (LG)-DMEM (GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Logan, UT, USA) containing 2.5 g/l trypsin (Sigma-Aldrich; Merck KGaA) and 1 g/l collagenase IV (Sigma-Aldrich; Merck KGaA), at 37°C for 1 h. Digestion products were centrifuged at 1,105 × g for 10 min. The pellet was filtered through a nylon mesh to remove cellular debris, and incubated overnight at 37°C in 5% CO2 in control medium. The plates were then washed extensively with PBS to remove residual red blood cells. A total of 1×107 cells/ml were seeded in 6-well plates, placed at 37°C in 5% CO2 cell culture incubator. Cells were trypsinized to confluency, and used at the third or fourth passage in experiments. Cell surface markers, including CD34, CD45, CD73, CD90, CD105 and human leukocyte antigen-antigen D related (HLA-DR) were assessed by flow cytometry using specific kits from BD Biosciences (Franklin Lakes, NJ, USA), according to the manufacturer's instructions.

All hPMSCs differentiation experiments were conducted as previously reported (25). To induce neurogenic differentiation, hPMSCs were incubated in LG-DMEM supplemented with 10% FBS, 1% penicillin-streptomycin, 20 ng/ml human basic fibroblast growth factor, 10 ng/ml brain-derived neurotrophic factor and 10 mM β-mercaptoethanol for 3 days, and stained for Nestin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, β-tubulin, microtubule-associated protein 2 and myelin basic protein. Osteogenic differentiation was obtained after cell culture for 2 weeks or more in osteogenic medium (10% FBS, 0.1 mM dexamethasone, 10 µM E-glycerophosphate and 50 µg/ml ascorbic acid in DMEM) and evaluation of extracellular matrix calcification by alizarin red stain. Osteogenic differentiation was quantified by measuring alizarin red stained areas in 6 wells by image analysis. For adipogenic differentiation, the cells were cultured for 2 weeks in adipogenic medium (10% FBS, 1 pM dexamethasone, 100 µg/ml 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine, 5 pg/ml insulin, and 60 pM indomethacin in DMEM) and analyzed by Oil Red O staining. For quantitation, 1 ml of isopropyl alcohol was added to the stained culture dish.

Intravenous transplantation of hPMSCs

hPMSCs were washed with PBS and resuspended in PBS at a density of 1×107 cells/ml. Subsequently, 0.5 ml cell suspension was injected into rats via the tail vein at 14 and 15 days. A total of 40 rats were divided into four groups, (n=10): i) Control group (rats sensitized, pretreated and challenged with PBS); ii) OVA group (rats sensitized and challenged with OVA and pretreated with PBS); iii) control + hPMSCs group (rats sensitized and challenged with PBS and pretreated with hPMSCs); iv) OVA + hPMSCs group (rats sensitized with OVA, pretreated with hPMSCs, then challenged with OVA).

Measurement of methacholine airway hyperreactivity (AHR)

AHR was assessed as previously described (26). Briefly, unrestrained rats were evaluated 24 h after the last challenge in the conscious state by noninvasive whole-body plethysmography. The animals were placed in the plethysmography chamber and exposed to increasing concentrations of aerosolized methacholine (Chengdu Chroma-Biotechnology Co., Ltd., Chengdu, China) at 0, 12.5, 5 and 50 mg/ml for 10 min. The enhanced pause (Penh) was calculated automatically based on the mean pressure generated in the chamber during inspiration and expiration combined with the time of each phase. Penh values were obtained during each 3-min interval and averaged.

Histopathological analysis

Lung tissues were fixed by infusing 4% paraformaldehyde through the trachea for ~1 week. Then, the samples were paraffin-embedded for light microscopic evaluation; 4 µm-thick transverse sections obtained on a microtome were submitted to hematoxylin and eosin. The degree of microscopic peri-bronchial and peri-vascular inflammation was graded on a subjective scale of 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 (9): Grade 0 indicated normal appearance, and grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 reflected mild, moderate, distinct and severe inflammation, respectively. Total lung inflammation and asthma scores were the sum of peri-bronchial and peri-vascular inflammation scores; sections obtained from the left lung were analyzed.

Bronchoalveolar lavage

Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples were collected by cannulation of the trachea. A syringe with normal saline was inserted thrice along with the left lung bronchus for tracheal lavage. The supernatant was discarded subseuquent to centrifugation at 500 × g, 10 min, 25°C (Heraeus Biofuge; Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., Waltham, MA, USA), and cells were submitted to Wright's staining. Total number of cells, eosinophilia, lymphocyte, macrophage and neutrophils were obtained by microscopic counting.

Lymph collection

Rats were anesthetized by intraperitoneal injection of 4% chloral hydrate, and the abdominal cavity was exposed. The superior mesenteric artery and lymph nodes around it were first located, and a blunt dissection of the plasma membrane of lymphatic vessels was conducted. Subsequently, a drainage tube was inserted to extract 0.7–1 ml lymph. Following centrifugation at 500 × g, 10 min, 4°C for 10 min, the supernatant was collected and frozen at −80°C until use.

Separation of mononuclear cells (MNCs)

Blood was diluted with an equal volume of the PBS, overlayed on Ficoll, and submitted to gradient centrifugation at 900 × g, 20 min, 4°C for 20 min. The MNCs were collected at the interphase, and adjusted at 2–3×106/ml with fresh RPMI-1640. The MNCs were seeded per well of 24-well plates, with concanavalin A (ConA) added at 5 g/ml, incubated at 37°C in the presence of 5% CO2 for 18 h.

Flow cytometric analysis of Treg and Th17 cellsin lymph and MNC samples

Following 18-h culture, MNCs were collected. For Treg detection, the cells were stained with fluorescent-labeled anti-CD25-phycoerythrin (PE), anti-CD4-fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) and anti-forkhead box P3 (Foxp3)-PerCP/Cy5 (0.2 mg/ml) antibodies (1:1; cat. nos. 12-0390-82, 11-0040-82, 45-5773-82, respectively; eBioscience; Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.). PE-Rat IgG1 κ, FITC- Rat IgG2a κ and PE-Cy5 Rat IgG2a Isotype control antibodies (1:1; cat. nos. 12-4301-82, 11-4321-80 and 35-4321-82, respectively; eBioscience; Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.) were used as controls. For Th17 detection, the cells were treated with vancomycin (1 µg/ml), and Brefeldin (10 µg/ml; Sigma-Aldrich; Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) in the last 5 h of incubation, and stained with fluorescent-labeled anti-CD4-FITC and anti-IL17-PE (1:1; cat. nos. 11-0040-82 and 12-7177-81, respectively; eBioscience; Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.) antibodies. FITC-rat IgG2a κ isotype and PE-rat IgG2a κ isotype antibodies (1:1; cat. no. s 11-4321-80 and 12-4321-41, respectively; eBioscience; Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.) were used as controls.

Reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR)

Total RNA was extracted from lung tissues and MNCs using RNAiso Plus (Takara Bio, Inc., Otsu, Japan), and 2 µg was reverse transcribed using the Revert Aid First Strand cDNA Synthesis kit (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., Waltham, MA, USA). RT-qPCR was conducted using 0.4 µl of the forwards and reverse primers, each (synthesized by Sangon Biotech Co., Ltd., Shanghai, China), 2.0 µl cDNA, and 10 µl SYBR green-based PCR master mix (Takara Bio, Inc.) on a Rotor Gene 3000 Real-Time PCR System from Corbett Research (Sydney, Australia). Reactions were performed at 95°C for 30 sec (initial denaturation), followed by 40 cycles of 95°C for 5 sec and 60°C for 20 sec. Fluorescence readings were monitored during the 60°C step. Data were analyzed by the 2−ΔΔCq method using the LightCycler Data Analysis software (version; Roche Diagnostics, Basel, Switzerland) (27). The following primers were used: Foxp3 forward, 5′-ttcacctatgccaccctcat-3′ and reverse, 5′-actgctcccttctcactctcc-3′; GAPDH forward, 5′-acagcaacagggtggtggac-3′ and reverse, 5′-tttgagggtacagcgaactt-3′; IL-10 forward, 5′-gctatgttgcctgctcttactg-3′ and reverse, 5′-tctggctgactgggaagtg-3′; RORγt forward, 5′-gacttttcccacttcctacagc-3′ and reverse, 5′-cagatgctccactctcctcttt-3′; IL-17 forward, 5′-gaaagtcctcaactcccttagctc-3′ and reverse, 5′-cctcccagatcacagaaggata-3′.

Western blotting assay

Western blot analysis was performed to detect the protein expression levels of RORγt and Foxp3 in asthma models and hPMSC-treated groups. Lung tissues were lysed using RIPA lysis buffer (Beyotime Institute of Biotechnology, Haimen, China). A total of ~50 mg amounts of protein were separated by 10% SDS-PAGE and transferred onto PVDF membranes. After blocking with 5% skimmed milk, the membranes were probed with a rabbit antibodies against rat RORγt (1:500; ab78007; Abcam, Cambridge, UK) and mouse antibodies for Foxp3 (1:1,000; ab22510; Abcam) followed by horseradish peroxidase-conjugated goat anti-rabbit IgG (1:1,000; cat. no. A0208; Beyotime Institute of Biotechnology, China) IgG antibody incubation. Protein bands were detected with an enhanced chemiluminescence kit (Pierce, Biotechnology, Inc., Rockford, IL, USA) according to the manufacturer's instructions. GAPDH was used as a loading control.

Measurement of cytokines

Lung tissues, lymph supernatants and serum specimens from the four groups were collected and analyzed using commercially available Quantikine kits, including rat IL-10 Immunoassay ELISA kit, R1000 IL-17 and IL-10 mouse IL-17 Immunoassay ELISA kit, M1700 (both R&D Systems, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, USA).

Statistical analysis

Data are mean ± standard deviation. Multigroup comparsions of the means were carried out by one-way analysis of variance test with post hoc contrasts by Student-Newman-Keuls test. Statistical analyses were performed using the SPSS 18.0 software (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). P<0.05 was considered to indicate a statistically significant difference.


hPMSCs exhibit multipotency

The hPMSCs obtained had a spindle-shaped fibroblast-like appearance (Fig. 2A). Flow cytometry indicated that they expressed the cell-surface markers CD73, CD90 and CD105, however not HLA-DR, CD34 and CD45 (Fig. 2B). In addition, hPMSCs could be differentiated into neuronal cells, osteoblasts and fat cells (Fig. 2C-E).

Methacholine AHR

In order to assess the effect of hPMSCs on lung function, AHR was measured. As presented in Fig. 3A, Penh values in the four groups increased with the methacholine concentrations. However, Penh values in the OVA group at 25–50 mg/ml methacholine were significantly higher than those in the control, control + hPMSCs and OVA + hPMSCs groups. These results indicated that hPMSCs treatment significantly alleviated AHR in response to methacholine in asthmatic rats (P<0.01).

hPMSCs engraftment results in significantly fewer inflammatory cells in BALF

The numbers of total cells, macrophages, neutrophils and eosinophils were markedly increased in the OVA group compared with those of control + hPMSCs and control groups (Fig. 3). Meanwhile, the hPMSCs + OVA group had more total cells and eosinophils compared with the OVA group. Lymphocyte numbers were similar among all four groups. Then, inflammation scores were evaluated in each treatment group, taking into consideration the proportion of alveolar collapse, broncho constriction index, inflammatory cell infiltration and mucosal membrane thickening. The resulting values were higher in the OVA group compared with those of the control and control + hPMSCs groups. Notably, the OVA + hPMSCs group exhibited a significantly reduced score compared with the OVA group value (Fig. 3C). These results indicated that hPMSCs administration alleviated inflammation in OVA-treated rats.

hPMSCs engraftment alters the frequencies of Treg andTh17 cells in serum and lymph

To investigate the mechanism of hPMSCs effects, CD4+CD25+regulatory T cells and Th17 cells were quantified. The amount of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ (Treg cells) in the lymph were significantly lower in the OVA group (P<0.05) compared with control values. However, hPMSC transplantation significantly increased the lymph ratio of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells in OVA-treated animals (OVA+ hPMSCs group; P<0.05) (Fig. 4A and C). A similar trend was obtained for serum samples, with the OVA group exhibiting significantly lower amounts of Treg cells than the control and hPMSCs treatment groups (P<0.05); administration of hPMSCs markedly increased CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ (Treg cells) proportions in serum from OVA treated animals (Fig. 4B and C).

The percentages of Th17 positive cells in serum and lymph from OVA treated animals were higher compared with control values (P<0.05; Fig. 4D-F), and were decreased following hPMSCs administration (P<0.05). A greater number of Th17 cells were observed in the lymph compared with the serum in all groups (P<0.05; Fig. 4D-F).

Effect of hPMSC administration on levels of cytokines andtranscription factors in asthmatic rats

To further assess the effects of hPMSC administration in asthmatic rats, cytokine levels were measured in serum and lymph samples. As presented in Fig. 5A, lower IL-10 amounts detected by ELISA were obtained in the OVA group compared with control values, both in serum and lymph specimens. In addition, IL-17 exhibited the opposite trend (Fig. 5B). Notably, administration of hPMSCs in OVA-treated rats (OVA + hPMSCs group) resulted in increased IL-10 and reduced IL-17 levels, both in serum and lymph samples, compared with the OVA group (P<0.05). However, no significant differences in IL-10 and IL-17 levels between lymph and peripheral blood samples were observed in either group (Fig. 5A and B).

To further characterize the effects of hPMSCs on immune response, gene expression levels of select molecules were assessed by RT-qPCR. Notably, mRNA levels of the Treg master transcription factor Foxp3 were significantly increased in hPMSCs-treated asthmatic rats, both in blood and lymph samples (Fig. 5C). An opposite trend was obtained for the Th17 transcription factor RORγt, in lymph and peripheral blood samples (Fig. 5D). Foxp3 and RORγt mRNA levels in lymph samples were significantly increased compared with the levels in the serum in each group (P<0.05).

Subsequently, IL-10 and IL-17 gene expression levels were assessed in lung tissue samples by RT-qPCR. In agreement with the above, IL-10 mRNA levels were significantly decreased in the OVA group compared with control rat values (P<0.05; Fig. 5E), while IL-17 levels were increased. However, IL-10 upregulation and IL-17 downregulation were reversed by hPMSCs treatment (OVA + hPMSCs groups) (P<0.05; Fig. 5F). Finally, tissue protein levels of Foxp3 and RORγt were assessed by western blotting. As presented in Fig. 5G and H, Foxp3 protein levels were decreased, and RORγt amounts increased in the OVA group compared with control values; meanwhile, transplantation of hPMSCs resulted in increased Foxp3 and RORγt protein amounts compared with the asthma (OVA) group (Fig. 5G and H).


The present study indicated that treatment with hPMSCs improved lung inflammation and corrected the Th17/Treg balance, which may be mediated IL-17/IL-10 and Foxp3/RORγt ratios between peripheral blood and mesenteric lymph nodes.

A previous study demonstrated that MSCs have an important therapeutic potential in several clinical disorders such as asthma (28). It is known that hPMSCs generated from the placenta are morphologically and functionally similar to BM-MSCs; however, the immune inhibitory effects of hPMSCs on T cell proliferation are more prominent than those of BM-MSCs (29,30). In the present study, it was demonstrated that the placenta had the advantages of producing more MSCs compared with bone marrow, with reduced ethical issues (as the placenta is medical waste). These results suggest that hPMSCs maybe an alternative source of stem cells for medicinal use.

Th17 cells that produce IL-17 participate in the development of neutrophilic inflammation in asthma via expression of ROR; IL-17 expression is upregulated in the airways of asthmatic patients, correlating with eosinophilic airway inflammation (31). Previous studies demonstrated that allergen sensitization induces Th17-dependent airway neutrophilia and AHR (32), and the degree of AHR in patients with asthma is positively correlated with sputum IL-17 levels (33,34).

Treg development and function are dependent on CD4 and CD25 receptors and the expression of the master transcription factor Foxp3; Treg not only inhibits Th1 and Th2 cell immune responses (35), however additionally the proliferation and function of Th17 cells by contact-dependent suppression or release of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and TGF-β. Previous studies have demonstrated that BM-MSCs inhibit Th2-mediated allergic airway inflammation by altering antigen-specific CD4 T lymphocyte differentiation (36,37). As indicated above, hPMSC administration increased IL-10 production and decreased IL-17 levels to inhibit Th17 cells in lymph and blood, correcting the Th17/Treg imbalance in asthmatic rats. Th17/Treg associated with inflammation in asthma maybe mediated by Foxp3/RORγt alteration. The IL-17/IL-10 balance in the lung, lymph and circulation indicates that the complex regulatory role of hPMSCs requires further investigation.

Treg expressing Foxp3 serves an anti-inflammatory role and maintain immune tolerance to self-components through cell-to-cell direct contact or the release of cytokines such as IL-10. Foxp3, as a master regulator, is involved in modulating Treg mediated immunosuppression by inducing the production of TGF-β and IL-10 (38,39). RORγt is a Th17 cell-specific transcription factor. RORγt knockout mice exhibit reduced amounts of Th17 cells and decreased incidence of autoimmune diseases (40). Notably, Th17 cells and IL-17 were demonstrated to induce airway remodeling (41). Studies have indicated that Th17 cell cytokine and protein expression levels are significantly higher in the lung tissue, sputum and BALF from patients with asthma (31). The present study demonstrated that Foxp3 levels in lymph and serum samples increased in asthmatic rats treated with hPMSCs treatment, while RORγt levels decreased. These results indicated that hPMSCs may have ameliorated inflammation in asthma by boosting Foxp3 and IL-10 production to increase Treg cell amounts, while repressing RORγt and IL-17 to reduce Th17 cell number. This ultimately resulted in corrected Th17/Treg balance in asthma.

In summary, it was demonstrated for, to the best of our knowledge, the first time, that hPMSCs alleviated allergic airway inflammation in a rat model of asthma. It appeared that Th17/Treg rebalance was induced by hPMSCs administration. This protection may be mediated by Treg regulation, partly involving increased IL-10 levels, in addition to the ratio of associated transcription factors including Foxp3/RORγt. These results indicate that hPMSCs affects immunosuppression, and may represent an improved cell source to replace BM-MSCs for immune disease treatment. The mechanisms of hPMSCs on the immune association between lymph and serum require further investigation.


The present study was supported by grants from the Shandong Province Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. ZR2010HM085 and ZR2011HM081), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 81273200) and the Taishan Scholar Foundation.





mesenchymal stem cells


regulatory T cell


human placenta MSCs


helper T-cell


bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells


airway hyperreactivity


bronchoalveolar lavage fluid


mononuclear cells


concanavalin A


reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction



Zhang J, Dai J, Yan L, Fu W, Yi J, Chen Y, Liu C, Xu D and Wang Q: Air pollutants, climate, and the prevalence of pediatric asthma in urban areas of China. Biomed Res Int. 2016:29351632016.PubMed/NCBI


Asher I and Pearce N: Global burden of asthma among children. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 18:1269–1278. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Chen ZH, Wang PL and Shen HH: Asthma research in China: A five-year review. Respirology. 18 Suppl 3:S10–S19. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar


Maddur MS, Miossec P, Kaveri SV and Bayry J: Th17 cells: Biology, pathogenesis of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and therapeutic strategies. Am J Pathol. 181:8–18. 2012. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Lloyd CM and Hawrylowicz CM: Regulatory T cells in asthma. Immunity. 31:438–449. 2009. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Jiang H, Wu X, Zhu H, Xie Y, Tang S and Jiang Y: FOXP3(+)Treg/Th17 cell imbalance in lung tissues of mice with asthma. Int J Clin Exp Med. 8:4158–4163. 2015.PubMed/NCBI


Weaver CT, Hatton RD, Mangan PR and Harrington LE: IL-17 family cytokines and the expanding diversity of effector T cell lineages. Annu Rev Immunol. 25:821–852. 2007. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Souwer Y, Szegedi K, Kapsenberg ML and de Jong EC: IL-17 and IL-22 in atopic allergic disease. Curr Opin Immunol. 22:821–826. 2010. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Hou X, Wan H, Ai X, Shi Y, Ni Y, Tang W and Shi G: Histone deacetylase inhibitor regulates the balance of Th17/Treg in allergic asthma. Clin Respir J. 10:371–379. 2016. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Wei Y, Liu B, Sun J, Lv Y, Luo Q, Liu F and Dong J: Regulation of Th17/Treg function contributes to the attenuation of chronic airway inflammation by icariin in ovalbumin-induced murine asthma model. Immunobiology. 220:789–797. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Kanagaratham C and Radzioch D: Allergic Asthma: A summary from genetic basis, mouse studies, to diagnosis and treatment. Curr Pharm Des. 22:6261–6272. 2016. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Moodley Y, Manuelpillai U and Weiss DJ: Cellular therapies for lung disease: A distant horizon. Respirology. 16:223–237. 2011. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Sinclair K, Yerkovich ST and Chambers DC: Mesenchymal stem cells and the lung. Respirology. 18:397–411. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Cho KS, Park MK, Kang SA, Park HY, Hong SL, Park HK, Yu HS and Roh HJ: Adipose-derived stem cells ameliorate allergic airway inflammation by inducing regulatory T cells in a mouse model of asthma. Mediators Inflamm. 2014:4364762014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Lee SH, Jang AS, Kwon JH, Park SK, Won JH and Park CS: Mesenchymal stem cell transfer suppresses airway remodeling in a toluene diisocyanate-induced murine asthma model. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 3:205–211. 2011. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Vellasamy S, Sandrasaigaran P, Vidyadaran S, George E and Ramasamy R: Isolation and characterisation of mesenchymal stem cells derived from human placenta tissue. World J Stem Cells. 4:53–61. 2012. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Abumaree MH, Al Jumah MA, Kalionis B, Jawdat D, Al Khaldi A, AlTalabani AA and Knawy BA: Phenotypic and functional characterization of mesenchymal stem cells from chorionic villi of human term placenta. Stem Cell Rev. 9:16–31. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Luan X, Li G, Wang G, Wang F and Lin Y: Human placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells suppress T cell proliferation and support the culture expansion of cord blood CD34+ cells: A comparison with human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Tissue Cell. 45:32–38. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Liu KJ, Wang CJ, Chang CJ, Hu HI, Hsu PJ, Wu YC, Bai CH, Sytwu HK and Yen BL: Surface expression of HLA-G is involved in mediating immunomodulatory effects of placenta-derived multipotent cells (PDMCs) towards natural killer lymphocytes. Cell Transplant. 20:1721–1730. 2011. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Yang M, Zhao X, Liu Y, Tian Y, Ran X and Jiang Y: A role for WNT1-inducible signaling protein-1 in airway remodeling in a rat asthma model. Int Immunopharmacol. 17:350–357. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Trzil JE, Masseau I, Webb TL, Chang CH, Dodam JR, Cohn LA, Liu H, Quimby JM, Dow SW and Reinero CR: Long-term evaluation of mesenchymal stem cell therapy in a feline model of chronic allergic asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 44:1546–1557. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Ogulur I, Gurhan G, Aksoy A, Duruksu G, Inci C, Filinte D, Kombak FE, Karaoz E and Akkoc T: Suppressive effect of compact bone-derived mesenchymal stem cells on chronic airway remodeling in murine model of asthma. Int Immunopharmacol. 20:101–109. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Zeng SL, Wang LH, Li P, Wang W and Yang J: Messenchymal stem cells abrogate experimental asthma by altering dendritic cell fuction. Mol Med Rep. 12:2511–2520. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Yen BL, Huang HI, Chien CC, Jui HY, Ko BS, Yao M, Shun CT, Yen ML, Lee MC and Chen YC: Isolation of multipotent cells from human term placenta. Stem Cells. 23:3–9. 2005. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Lee RH, Kim B, Choi I, Kim H, Choi HS, Suh K, Bae YC and Jung JS: Characterization and expression analysis of mesenchymal stem cells from human bone marrow and adipose tissue. Cell Physiol Biochem. 14:311–324. 2004. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Lee CG, Link H, Baluk P, Homer RJ, Chapoval S, Bhandari V, Kang MJ, Cohn L, Kim YK, McDonald DM and Elias JA: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induces remodeling and enhances TH2-mediated sensitization and inflammation in the lung. Nat Med. 10:1095–1103. 2004. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Livak KJ and Schmittgen TD: Analysis of relative gene expression data using real-time quantitative PCR and the 2(-Delta Delta C(T)) method. Methods. 25:402–408. 2001. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Mariñas-Pardo L, Mirones I, Amor-Carro O, Fraga-Iriso R, Lema-Costa B, Cubillo I, Rodríguez Milla MÁ, García-Castro J and Ramos-Barbón D: Mesenchymal stem cells regulate airway contractile tissue remodeling in murine experimental asthma. Allergy. 69:730–740. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Srour N and Thébaud B: Stem cells in animal asthma models: A systematic review. Cytotherapy. 16:1629–1642. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Li X, Bai J, Ji X, Li R, Xuan Y and Wang Y: Comprehensive characterization of four different populations of human mesenchymal stem cells as regards their immune properties, proliferation and differentiation. Int J Mol Med. 34:695–704. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Doe C, Bafadhel M, Siddiqui S, Desai D, Mistry V, Rugman P, McCormick M, Woods J, May R, Sleeman MA, et al: Expression of the T helper 17-associated cytokines IL-17A and IL-17F in asthma and COPD. Chest. 138:1140–1147. 2010. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Wilson RH, Whitehead GS, Nakano H, Free ME, Kolls JK and Cook DN: Allergic sensitization through the airway primes Th17-dependent neutrophilia and airway hyperresponsiveness. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 180:720–730. 2009. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Barczyk A, Pierzchala W and Sozanska E: Interleukin-17 in sputum correlates with airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine. Respir Med. 97:726–733. 2003. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Lathrop MJ, Brooks EM, Bonenfant NR, Sokocevic D, Borg ZD, Goodwin M, Loi R, Cruz F, Dunaway CW, Steele C and Weiss DJ: Mesenchymal stromal cells mediate Aspergillus hyphal extract-induced allergic airway inflammation by inhibition of the Th17 signaling pathway. Stem Cells Transl Med. 3:194–205. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Kim HP and Leonard WJ: CREB/ATF-dependent T cell receptor-induced FoxP3 gene expression: A role for DNA methylation. J Exp Med. 204:1543–1551. 2007. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Goodwin M, Sueblinvong V, Eisenhauer P, Ziats NP, LeClair L, Poynter ME, Steele C, Rincon M and Weiss DJ: Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells inhibit Th2-mediated allergic airways inflammation in mice. Stem Cells. 29:1137–1148. 2011. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Giuliani M, Fleury M, Vernochet A, Ketroussi F, Clay D, Azzarone B, Lataillade JJ and Durrbach A: Long-lasting inhibitory effects of fetal liver mesenchymal stem cells on T-lymphocyte proliferation. PLoS One. 6:e199882011. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Fontenot JD, Gavin MA and Rudensky AY: Foxp3 programs the development and function of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells. Nat Immunol. 4:330–336. 2003. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Ge X, Bai C, Yang J, Lou G, Li Q and Chen R: Intratracheal transplantation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells reduced airway inflammation and up-regulated CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells in asthmatic mouse. Cell Biol Int. 37:675–686. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Ivanov II, McKenzie BS, Zhou L, Tadokoro CE, Lepelley A, Lafaille JJ, Cua DJ and Littman DR: The orphan nuclear receptor RORgammat directs the differentiation program of proinflammatory IL-17+ T helper cells. Cell. 126:1121–1133. 2006. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Zhao J, Lloyd CM and Noble A: Th17 responses in chronic allergic airway inflammation abrogate regulatory T-cell-mediated tolerance and contribute to airway remodeling. Mucosal Immunol. 6:335–346. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI

Related Articles

Journal Cover

December 2017
Volume 16 Issue 6

Print ISSN: 1791-2997
Online ISSN:1791-3004

2016 Impact Factor: 1.692
Ranked #19/128 Medicine Research and Experimental
(total number of cites)

Sign up for eToc alerts

Recommend to Library

Copy and paste a formatted citation
Li, Y., Li, H., Cao, Y., Wu, F., Ma, W., Wang, Y., & Sun, S. (2017). Placenta‑derived mesenchymal stem cells improve airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in asthmatic rats by modulating the Th17/Treg balance. Molecular Medicine Reports, 16, 8137-8145.
Li, Y., Li, H., Cao, Y., Wu, F., Ma, W., Wang, Y., Sun, S."Placenta‑derived mesenchymal stem cells improve airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in asthmatic rats by modulating the Th17/Treg balance". Molecular Medicine Reports 16.6 (2017): 8137-8145.
Li, Y., Li, H., Cao, Y., Wu, F., Ma, W., Wang, Y., Sun, S."Placenta‑derived mesenchymal stem cells improve airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation in asthmatic rats by modulating the Th17/Treg balance". Molecular Medicine Reports 16, no. 6 (2017): 8137-8145.