Transforming growth factor-β-Expressing Mesenchymal Stem Cells Induce Local Tolerance in a Rat Liver Transplantation Model of Acute Rejection

Jincao Tang, Renjie Yang, Ling Lv, Aihua Yao, Liyong Pu, Aihong Yin, Xiangcheng Li, Yue Yu, Scott L. Nyberg, Xuehao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Acute rejection is commonly encountered for long-term survival in liver transplant (LT) recipients and may impact their long-term survival if rejection is severe or recurrent. The aim of this study is to examine the therapeutic potential of transforming growth factor (TGF-β)-overexpressing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in inducing a local immunosuppression in liver grafts after transplantation. MSCs were transduced with a lentiviral vector expressing the human TGF-β1 gene; TGF-β1-overexpressing MSCs (designated as TGF/MSCs) were then transfused into the liver grafts via the portal vein of a rat LT model of acute rejection. Rejection severity was assessed by clinical and histologic analysis. The immunity suppression effects and mechanism of TGF/MSCs were tested, focusing on their ability to induce generation of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the liver grafts. Our findings demonstrate that transfusion of TGF/MSCs prevented rejection, reduced mortality, and improved survival of rats after LT. The therapeutic effects were associated with the immunosuppressive effects of MSCs and TGF-β1. Their reciprocal effects on Tregs induction and function resulted in more CD4 + Foxp3 + Helios- induced Tregs, fewer Th17 cells, and improved immunosuppressive effects in local liver grafts. Thus, TGF/MSCs can induce a local immunosuppressive effect in liver grafts after transplantation. The immunomodulatory activity of TGF-β1 modified MSCs may be a gateway to new therapeutic approaches to prevent organ rejection in clinical transplantation. Stem Cells 2016;34:2681–2692.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2681-2692
Number of pages12
JournalStem Cells
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Cellular therapy
  • Immunosuppression
  • Liver
  • Marrow stromal stem cells
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Rat model
  • Transforming growth factor-β
  • Transplantation tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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