Obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality after lung transplant and hematopoietic cell transplant. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have been shown to possess immunomodulatory properties in chronic inflammatory disease.
Administration of MSCs was evaluated for the ability to ameliorate OB in mice using our established allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT) model.
Mice were lethally conditioned and received allogeneic bone marrow without (BM) or with spleen cells (BMS), as a source of OB-causing T-cells. Cell therapy was started at 2 weeks post-transplant, or delayed to 4 weeks when mice developed airway injury, defined as increased airway resistance measured by pulmonary function test (PFT). BM-derived MSC or control cells [mouse pulmonary vein endothelial cells (PVECs) or lung fibroblasts (LFs)] were administered. Route of administration [intratracheally (IT) and IV] and frequency (every 1, 2 or 3 weeks) were compared. Mice were evaluated at 3 months post-BMT.
No ectopic tissue formation was identified in any mice. When compared to BMS mice receiving control cells or no cells, those receiving MSCs showed improved resistance, compliance and inspiratory capacity. Interim PFT analysis showed no difference in route of administration. Improvements in PFTs were found regardless of dose frequency; but once per week worked best even when administration began late. Mice given MSC also had decreased peribronchiolar inflammation, lower levels of hydroxyproline (collagen) and higher frequencies of macrophages staining for the alternatively activated macrophage (AAM) marker CD206.