Gut 62:1131-1141 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2012-302152
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Original article

Adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells induce immunomodulatory macrophages which protect from experimental colitis and sepsis

  1. Mario Delgado1
  1. 1Institute for Parasitology and Biomedicine IPBLN-CSIC, Granada, Spain
  2. 2GENYO, Granada, Spain
  3. 3Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mario Delgado, Instituto de Parasitologia y Biomedicina-CSIC, Avda. Conocimiento, PT Ciencias de la Salud, Granada 18100, Spain; mdelgado{at}
  1. Contributors PA, MD: study design; EG-R, PA, LS-M, MC, MM, FOV: acquisition of data; EG-R, MD, PA: analysis and interpretation of data and statistical analysis; PA, MD: manuscript preparation.

  • Revised 20 April 2012
  • Accepted 23 April 2012
  • Published Online First 25 May 2012


Objective To investigate the effect of adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (ASCs) on the activation state of macrophages (MΦ) in vitro, and the potential therapeutic effect of these cells in experimental colitis and sepsis.

Design Murine bone marrow-derived macrophages were cultured with ASCs or with ASC conditioned media (ASC-MΦ) and characterised for the expression of several regulatory macrophage markers, including enzymes and cytokines, and for their immunomodulatory capacity in vitro. The therapeutic effect was investigated of ASC-MΦ in two models of experimental inflammatory colitis induced by trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid and dextran sodium sulphate, and in polymicrobial sepsis induced by caecal ligation and puncture.

Results ASC-MΦ showed a phenotype that clearly differed from the classically activated macrophages or the alternatively activated macrophages induced by interleukin (IL)-4, characterised by high arginase activity, increased production of IL-10 upon restimulation and potent immunosuppressive activity on T cells and macrophages. Activation of cyclo-oxygenase-2 on ASCs seems to be critically involved in inducing this phenotype. Systemic infusion of ASC-MΦ inhibited colitis in mice, reducing mortality and weight loss while lowering the colonic and systemic levels of inflammatory cytokines. Importantly, therapeutic injection of ASC-MΦ in established chronic colitis alleviated its progression and avoided disease recurrence. Moreover, ASC-MΦ protected from severe sepsis by reducing the infiltration of inflammatory cells into various organs and by downregulating the production of several inflammatory mediators, where ASC-MΦ-derived IL-10 played a critical role.

Conclusion ASCs induce a distinct regulatory activation state of macrophages which possess potent immunomodulatory ability and therapeutic potential in inflammatory bowel diseases and sepsis.


  • Funding This work was supported by grants from Ministry of Science and Innovation (Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias-Institute of Health Carlos III) and Junta de Andalucia. PA is recipient of a Miguel Servet contract (CIP09/00228).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.