Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are promising therapeutic strategies for coronary artery disease; however, donor-related variability in cell quality is a main cause of discrepancies in preclinical studies. In vitro, MSCs from individuals with coronary artery disease have reduced ability to suppress activated T-cells. The mechanisms underlying the altered immunomodulatory capacity of MSCs in the context of atherosclerosis remain elusive.Objective:
The aim of this study was to assess the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the impaired immunomodulatory properties of MSCs from patients with atherosclerosis.Methods and Results:
Adipose tissue–derived MSCs were isolated from atherosclerotic (n=38) and nonatherosclerotic (n=42) donors. MSCs:CD4+T-cell suppression was assessed in allogeneic coculture systems. Compared with nonatherosclerotic-MSCs, atherosclerotic-MSCs displayed higher levels of both intracellular (P=0.006) and mitochondrial (P=0.03) reactive oxygen species reflecting altered mitochondrial function. The increased mitochondrial reactive oxygen species levels of atherosclerotic-MSCs promoted a phenotypic switch characterized by enhanced glycolysis and an altered cytokine secretion (interleukin-6 P<0.0001, interleukin-8/C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 8 P=0.04, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1/chemokine ligand 2 P=0.01). Furthermore, treatment of atherosclerotic-MSCs with the reactive oxygen species scavenger N-acetyl-L-cysteine reduced the levels of interleukin-6, interleukin-8/C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1/chemokine ligand 2 in the MSC secretome and improved MSCs immunosuppressive capacity (P=0.03).Conclusions:
An impaired mitochondrial function of atherosclerotic-MSCs underlies their altered secretome and reduced immunopotency. Interventions aimed at restoring the mitochondrial function of atherosclerotic-MSCs improve their in vitro immunosuppressive ability and may translate into enhanced therapeutic efficiency.