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On March 12th 2013 took place at Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca (VHIR) the seminar ‘Allogeneicity and Immunogenicity of Stem Cell Therapy: a cardiovascular focus’, conducted by Pr. Dominique Charron, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Immunology at the University of Paris and Chairman of the Department of Immunology and Histocompatibility at Hospital Saint Louis in Paris.
Research on stem cell therapies for regenerative medicine is progressing rapidly. Although the use of autologous stem cells is a tempting choice, there are several instances in which they are either defective or not available in due time. Allogenic stem cells derived from healthy donors presents a promising alternative. Whether autologous or allogenic, recent advances have proven that stem cells are not as immune privileged as they were thought. Therefore understanding the interactions of these cells with the recipient immune system is paramount to their clinical application. Transplantation of stem cells induces humoral as well as cellular immune response.
The research group of Pr. Dominique Charron investigated the immune characteristics of human cardiac stem/progenitor cells lines in term of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) expression, allogenicity and immuno modulatory properties. By using an experimental model of allogeneic stimulation, they demonstrate that, whether under inflammatory conditions or not, human cardiac progenitor cells (hCPC) do not trigger conventional allogeneic T helper cells type responses but instead induce proliferation and selective expansion of suppressive of regulatory T cells (Treg). Thus, hCPC in allogeneic settings acquire the capacity to down-regulate an ongoing immune response.
For stem cell therapy to move to the clinics, immunological barriers should be pragmatically managed. It could be recommended to minimize immunogenetic differences between stem cell and recipient, assay the immunization status of the recipient prior to stem cell injection, and monitor both allogenic and autoimmunity post stem cell transplantation. Integrating the unique immunobiology of stem cell with the patient immune status is key to successful translation to the clinics.