Objective. To investigate the efficacy of human adipose tissue–derived mesenchymal stem cell (ADMSC) transplantation in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and to determine the optimal transplantation
window for stem cells either before or after disease onset.
Methods. (NZB NZW)F1 mice with SLE were administered human AD-MSCs (5 105) intravenously every 2 weeks from age 6 weeks until age 60 weeks, while the control group received saline vehicle on the same schedule. Another experiment was carried out with a different initiation time point for serial transplantation (age 6 weeks or age 32 weeks).
Results. Long-term serial administration (total of 28 times) of human AD-MSCs ameliorated SLE without any adverse effects. Compared with the control group, the human AD-MSC–treated group had a significantly
higher survival rate with improvement of histologic and serologic abnormalities and immunologic function, and also had a decreased incidence of proteinuria. Anti–double-stranded DNA antibodies and blood urea nitrogen levels decreased significantly with transplantation of human AD-MSCs, and serum levels of granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor, interleukin-4 (IL-4), and IL-10 increased significantly. A significant
increase in the proportion of CD4 FoxP3 cells and a marked restoration of capacity for cytokine production were observed in spleens from the human AD-MSC–treated group. In the second experiment, an early stage
treatment group showed better results (higher survival rates and lower incidence of proteinuria) than an advanced stage treatment group.
Conclusion. Serial human AD-MSC transplantation had beneficial effects in the treatment of SLE, without adverse effects. Transplantation of human ADMSCs before disease onset was preferable for amelioration of SLE and restoration of immune homeostasis.