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Abstract: Somatic tissue engraftment was studied in BXSB mice treated with mesenchymal stem cell transplantation. Hosts were conditioned with nonlethal radiation prior to introducing donor cells from major histocompatibility complex-matched green fluorescent protein transgenic mice. Transplant protocols differed for route of injection, ie, intravenous (i.v.) versus intraperitoneal (i.p.), and source of mesenchymal stem cells, ie, unfractionated bone marrow cells, ex vivo expanded mesenchymal stem cells, or bone chips. Tissue chimerism was determined after short (10–12 weeks) or long (62 weeks) posttransplant follow-up by immunohistochemistry for green fluorescent protein. Engraftment of endothelial cells was seen in several organs including liver sinusoidal cells in i.v. treated mice with ex vivo expanded mesenchymal stem cells or with unfractionated bone marrow cells. Periportal engraftment of liver hepatocytes, but not engraftment of endothelial cells, was found in mice injected i.p. with bone chips. Engraftment of adipocytes was a common denominator in both i.v. and i.p. routes and occurred during early phases post-transplant. Disease control was more robust in mice that received both i.v. bone marrow and i.p. bone chips compared to mice that received i.v. bone marrow alone. Thus, the data support potential use of mesenchymal stem cell transplant for treatment of severe lupus. Future studies are needed to optimize transplant conditions and tailor protocols that may in part be guided by fat and endothelial biomarkers. Furthermore, the role of liver chimerism in disease control and the nature of cellular communication among donor hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells in a chimeric host merit further investigation.
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