Use of multiple potency assays to evaluate human mesenchymal stromal cells

Barbara A. Christy*, Maryanne C. Herzig, Christopher P. Delavan, Isaac Abaasah, Carolina Cantu, Christi Salgado, Sarah Lovelace, Laurynn Garcia, Katherine Jensen, Robbie Montgomery, Andrew P. Cap, James A. Bynum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: There is broad interest in the use of cell therapies and cell products for treatment of a variety of diseases and problems. Of interest to the military, cellular therapies have the potential to confer tremendous benefit for treatment of both acute and chronic injuries. Although many different cell therapy products are currently under investigation, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are good candidates, based on their ability to respond to inflammation, limit vascular permeability, and modulate immune responses to injury. Although a large number of clinical trials utilize MSCs or their products, there is no firm consensus defining the characteristics and activities of a good MSC product. Here, we test multiple human MSCs in several assays designed to test potency, to determine if functionally relevant differences between MSCs can be defined using in vitro assays, allowing identification of superior MSC products for preclinical or clinical testing. METHODS: Human MSCs derived from several tissue sources (adipose, bone marrow, umbilical cord) were evaluated for their ability to respond to inflammatory signaling by upregulating indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase and TSG6, suppress lymphocyte proliferation, alter the polarization of macrophages, and affect tube formation by endothelial cells. RESULTS: All MSCs tested displayed activity in the functional assays utilized, but differences in potency were observed in each assay. CONCLUSION: The indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase enzyme activity assay represents a simple way to screen multiple samples. The mixed lymphocyte reaction and monocyte assays used to test interactions between MSCs and immune cells are more involved but give direct information on immunomodulation potential. The endothelial cell tube formation assay is relatively simple to perform but a large number of images must be generated and analyzed. However, it tests a functional activity other than immunomodulation and, therefore, adds another facet to MSC evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S109-S117
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • MSC
  • assays
  • immunomodulation
  • potency


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