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Mesenchymal stromal cells in inflammatory bowel disease: conspirators within the ‘colitogenic niche’?
  1. Silvio Danese1,
  2. Sergio Rutella2,
  3. Stefania Vetrano1
  1. 1IBD Centre, Gastroenterology, Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre, Milan, Italy
  2. 2Department of Pediatric Haematology/Oncology and Transfusion Medicine, IRCCS Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Silvio Danese, IBD Centre, Gastroenterology, Humanitas Clinical and Research Centre, Milan 20089, Italy; sdanese{at}hotmail.com

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The term ‘stem cell niche’ refers to a spatial and temporal structure harbouring haematopoietic stem cells in close contact with accessory cell types, such as mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC). MSC were initially isolated from the bone marrow (BM) and subsequently from other sources, including adipose tissue and umbilical cord blood. MSC can be defined by phenotypic and functional criteria, and possess immunomodulating and regenerative properties that render them attractive candidates for cell therapy approaches in autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.1 ,2 MSC play a vital role in regulating haematopoiesis and give origin to crucial niche elements, such as osteoblasts, adipocytes and reticular fibroblasts.3 Intriguingly, MSC can home in to tissues in need of structural repair, where they release paracrine factors and recruit additional cell types, such as endothelial cells and macrophages.

BMMSC also regulate both innate and adaptive immune responses, leading to inhibited generation of T helper 17 (Th17) cells and promoting the reprogramming of Th17 cells into suppressive FoxP3-expressing regulatory T cells (Treg).4 Clinical trials with both locally delivered and systemic autologous BMMSC have shown promising results in terms of safety and therapeutic efficacy for patients …

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