Interferon-γ regulates the function of mesenchymal stem cells from oral lichen planus via indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase activity

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Little is known about mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in normal or inflammatory oral mucosal tissues, such as in oral lichen planus (OLP). Our objectives were to identify, isolate, and characterize MSCs from normal human oral mucosa and OLP lesions, and to evaluate indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO) activity in mediating immunomodulation of MSCs from these tissues.


Expressions of MSCs-related markers were examined in isolated cells by flow cytometry. Self-renewal and multilineage differentiations were studied to characterize these MSCs. Interferon-γ (IFN-γ), IDO, and STRO-1 were assessed by immunofluorescence. MSCs from oral mucosa and OLP or IFN-γ-pretreated MSCs were co-cultured with allogeneic mixed lymphocyte reaction assays (MLR). Proliferation and apoptosis of MLR or MSCs were detected by CCK8 and the annexin V-FITC apoptosis detection kit, respectively. IDO expression and activity were measured by real-time PCR, Western blotting, and high-performance liquid chromatography.


Isolated cells from oral mucosa and OLP expressed MSC-related markers STRO-1, CD105, and CD90 but were absent for hematopoietic stem cell markers CD34. Besides, they all showed self-renewal and multilineage differentiation capacities. MSCs in OLP presented STRO-1/IDO+ phenotype by immunofluorescence. MSCs and IFN-γ-pretreated MSCs could inhibit lymphocyte proliferation via IDO activity, but not via cell apoptosis. Long-term IFN-γ could also inhibit MSC proliferation via IDO activity.


Mesenchymal stem cells can be isolated from human oral mucosa and OLP tissues. Besides self-renewal and multilineage differentiation properties, these cells may participate in immunomodulation mediated by IFN-γ via IDO activity in human OLP.

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