Abstract Adverse remodeling after myocardial infarction (MI) is strongly influenced by T cells. Stem cell therapy after MI, using mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) or cardiomyocyte progenitor cells (CMPC), improved cardiac function, despite low cell retention and limited differentiation. As MSC secrete many factors affecting T cell proliferation and function, we hypothesized the immune response could be affected as one of the targets of stem cell therapy. Therefore, we studied the immunosuppressive properties of human BM-MSC and CMPC and their extracellular vesicles (EVs) in co-culture with activated T cells. Proliferation of T cells, measured by carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester dilution, was significantly reduced in the presence of BM-MSC and CMPC. The inflammatory cytokine panel of the T cells in co-culture, measured by Luminex assay, changed, with strong downregulation of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha. The effect on proliferation was observed in both direct cell contact and transwell co-culture systems. Transfer of conditioned medium to unrelated T cells abrogated proliferation in these cells. EVs isolated from the conditioned medium of BM-MSC and CMPC prevented T cell proliferation in a dose-dependent fashion. Progenitor cells presence induces up- and downregulation of multiple previously unreported pathways in T cells. In conclusion, both BM-MSC and CMPC have a strong capacity for in vitro immunosuppression. This effect is mediated by paracrine factors, such as extracellular vesicles. Besides proliferation, many additional pathways are influenced by both BM-MSC and CMPC.
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