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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent adult stem cells with immunomodulatory properties. The mechanisms by which MSCs inhibit the proliferation of pro-inflammatory T cells have not been fully elucidated yet. It is assumed that pro-inflammatory T-cells play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases. We investigated the potential therapeutic effects of human adipose tissue derived (Ad)-MSCs on the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and healthy individuals, with a particular focus on Th17-associated cytokines.PBMCs from RA patients and healthy donors were co-cultured with Ad-MSCs and HeLa with or without Phytohemagglutinin (PHA). Finally, IL-6, IL-17, IL-21, IL-23 and TGF-β levels were determined by ELISA and quantitative real-time RT-PCR on co-culture supernatants and PBMCs, respectively.In co-culture interaction, Ad-MSCs inhibited IL-17 secretion by PBMCs compared to unstimulated PBMCs cultured alone. In addition, IL-21 expressions in PBMCs of the patient group, and IL-17 and IL-21 in healthy group were inhibited by Ad-MSCs compared to PBMCs cultured alone. TGF-β expression in healthy individuals remarkably increased in both MSC-treated groups with and without PHA in comparison to PHA-stimulated and -unstimulated PBMCs.This study demonstrates that human Ad-MSCs act as key regulators of immune tolerance by inhibiting the inflammation. Therefore, they can be attractive candidates for immunomodulatory cell-based therapy in RA.Treatment of PBMCs by MSCs induces the expression of Treg-associated TGF-β in RA patients.Treatment of PBMCs by MSCs down-regulates Th17-associated IL-17 and IL-21 in RA patients.Ad-MSCs are proposed as immunomodulatory tools in the inhibition of pro-inflammatory T cells.