Adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASC) are of great interest as a cellular therapeutic agent for regenerative and immunomodulatory purposes. The function of ASC adapts to environmental conditions, such as oxygen tension. Oxygen levels within tissues are typically much lower than under standard culture conditions and ASC used for therapy therefore encounter a change from normoxic to hypoxic conditions. The effect of hypoxia on the regenerative potential of ASC has been investigated in a number of studies. The effect of hypoxia on the immunomodulatory function of ASC, however, remains to be determined. In the present study the effect of hypoxic (1% oxygen) culture conditions on human ASC was examined. ASC showed no signs of toxicity under low oxygen levels and no major immunophenotypical changes were observed, apart from a down regulation of the marker CD105. Oxygen tension had no effect on the proliferation of ASC and colony forming unit efficiency remained the same under 1 and 20% oxygen. Under both oxygen levels ASC were capable of strong upregulation of the immunomodulatory molecules indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and programed death ligand-1 upon stimulation with IFN-γ and TNF-α, and, in addition, IDO activity as measured by the accumulation of L-kynurenine was not affected under hypoxia. The ability of ASC to inhibit anti-CD3/CD28 stimulated CD4 + and CD8 + T cell proliferation was not hampered by hypoxia. The results of the present study demonstrate that the immunosuppressive capacity of ASC is maintained under hypoxic conditions. These findings are important for the therapeutic use of ASC and may be applied for the in vitro generation of ASC with improved functionality for therapeutic use.

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Keywords Cell therapy, Hypoxia, Immune modulation, Mesenchymal stem cells, Oxygen level
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Journal Frontiers in Immunology
Roemeling-Van Rhijn, M, Mensah, F.K.F, Korevaar, S.S, Leijs, M.J.C, van Osch, G.J.V.M, IJzermans, J.N.M, … Hoogduijn, M.J. (2013). Effects of hypoxia on the immunomodulatory properties of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Frontiers in Immunology, 4(JUL). doi:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00203