Journal of Allergy
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 187408, 8 pages
Review Article

Immunomodulatory Effects of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Crohn’s Disease

1Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Leiden University Medical Center, 2333 ZA Leiden, The Netherlands
2Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA

Received 21 May 2012; Accepted 27 August 2012

Academic Editor: Valentina Di Felice

Copyright © 2012 Ilse Molendijk et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The ability of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) to suppress immune responses combined with their potential to actively participate in tissue repair provides a strong rationale for the use of MSCs as a new treatment option in diseases characterized by inflammation and severe tissue damage, such as Crohn’s disease (CD) and perianal fistulas. Multiple studies have shown that MSCs suppress a range of immune cells, such as dendritic cells (DC), naïve and effector T cells, and natural killer (NK) cells. Recently published papers attribute the immunosuppressive capacity of MSCs to soluble factors produced by MSCs, such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). Promising results are obtained from phase I and II clinical trials with autologous and allogeneic MSCs as treatment for refractory CD and perianal fistulas; however the question remains: what are the molecular mechanisms underlying the immunomodulating properties of MSCs? This paper highlights the present knowledge on the immunosuppressive effects of MSCs and its complexity in relation to CD and perianal fistulas.