Background and Objective

Increasing interest has developed in the therapeutic potential of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and IBD-induced cancer. However, whether MSCs have the ability to suppress or promote tumor development remains controversial. The stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1)/C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) axis is well known to play a critical role in the homing of MSCs. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the role of CXCR4-overexpressing MSCs on the tumorigenesis of IBD.

Methods

MSCs were transduced with lentiviral vector carrying either CXCR4 or green fluorescent protein (GFP). Chemotaxis and invasion assays were used to detect CXCR4 expression. A mouse model of colitis-associated tumorigenesis was established using azoxymethane and dextran sulfate sodium (DSS). The mice were divided into three groups and then injected with phosphate buffer saline (PBS), MSC-GFP or MSC-CXCR4.

Results

Compared with the mice injected with MSC-GFP, the mice injected with MSC-CXCR4 showed relieved weight loss, longer colons, lower tumor numbers and decreased tumor load; expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines decreased, and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) phosphorylation level in colon tissue was down-regulated.

Conclusion

CXCR4-overexpressing MSCs exhibited effective anti-tumor function, which may be associated with enhanced homing to inflamed intestinal tissues.

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