Cold ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) is a major cause of graft failure in lung transplantation. Despite therapeutic benefits of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in attenuating acute lung injury, their protection of lung transplants from cold IRI remains elusive. The present study was to test the efficacy of MSCs in the prevention of cold IRI using a novel murine model of orthotopic lung transplantation.
Donor lungs from C57BL/6 mice were exposed to 6 h of cold ischemia before transplanted to syngeneic recipients. MSCs were isolated from the bone marrows of C57BL/6 mice for recipient treatment. Gas exchange was determined by the measurement of blood oxygenation, and lung injury and inflammation were assessed by histological analyses.
Intravenously delivered MSC migration/trafficking to the lung grafts occurred within 4-hours post-transplantation. As compared to untreated controls, the graft arterial blood oxygenation (PaO2/FiO2) capacity was significantly improved in MSC-treated recipients as early as 4 h post-reperfusion and such improvement continued over time. By 72 h, oxygenation reached normal level that was not seen in controls. MSCs treatment conferred significant protection of the grafts from cold IRI and cell apoptosis, which is correlated with less cellular infiltration, a decrease in proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6) and toll-like receptor 4, and an increase in anti-inflammatory TSG-6 generation.
MSCs provide significant protection against cold IRI in lung transplants, and thus may be a promising strategy to improve outcomes after lung transplantation.