Development and evaluation of IL-6 overexpressing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)

Peng Huang, Cuiping Zhang, Mina Delawary, Jennifer A. Korchak, Koji Suda, Abba C. Zubair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mesenchymal stem/stromal cell (MSC) therapy has been investigated in multiple diseases and conditions. Although the mechanisms of MSC-based therapies are not fully understood, we and others have shown interleukin 6 (IL-6) to be an important factor in MSC function. IL-6 contributes to many biological events, such as immune response, neurogenesis, and bone remodeling. In our study, we tested the feasibility of engineering MSCs by IL-6 mRNA transfection (eMSCs-IL6) and evaluated the optimal time to harvest them after transfection. We then assessed the functional characteristics of eMSCs-IL6. Quantitative real-time PCR and ELISA results have shown that mature IL-6 mRNA was efficiently transfected into MSCs using a lipofectamine based method. The IL-6 mRNA and protein overexpression peaked after 1 day of transfection and the secreted IL-6 protein was sustained for at least 6 days. A short time course experiment demonstrated that 4 h after transfection was the best time point to harvest and freeze eMSCs-IL6 for future studies. In addition, eMSCs-IL6 maintained their characteristics as defined by International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy. The immunosuppressive capacity of conditioned culture medium (CCM) from eMSCs-IL6 (CCM-IL6) was significantly enhanced compared to naïve MSCs conditioned culture medium (CCM-control). Our studies established for the first time the feasibility of efficiently generating IL-6 overexpressing MSCs which have enhanced immunosuppressive capacity. This is providing a novel approach to improve the efficacy of MSCs for potential application in regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-253
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • interleukin 6
  • mRNA engineering
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • regenerative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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