Impact Factor
This article is part of the Research Topic Novel approaches to vaccine development

Hypothesis & Theory ARTICLE

Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 16 November 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2012.00140

Mesenchymal stem cells as a novel vaccine platform

  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA
  • 2Tulane Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA
  • 3Department of Pharmacology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA

Vaccines are the most efficient and cost-effective means of preventing infectious disease. However, traditional vaccine approaches have thus far failed to provide protection against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis, malaria, and many other diseases. New approaches to vaccine development are needed to address some of these intractable problems. In this report, we review the literature identifying stimulatory effects of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) on immune responses and explore the potential for MSC as a novel, universal vaccination platform. MSC are unique bone marrow-derived multipotent progenitor cells that are presently being exploited as gene therapy vectors for a variety of conditions, including cancer and autoimmune diseases. Although MSC are predominantly known for anti-inflammatory properties during allogeneic MSC transplant, there is evidence that MSC can actually promote adaptive immunity under certain settings. MSC have also demonstrated some success in anti-cancer therapeutic vaccines and anti-microbial prophylactic vaccines, as we report, for the first time, the ability of modified MSC to express and secrete a viral antigen that stimulates antigen-specific antibody production in vivo. We hypothesize that the unique properties of modified MSC may enable MSC to serve as an unconventional but innovative, vaccine platform. Such a platform would be capable of expressing hundreds of proteins, thereby generating a broad array of epitopes with correct post-translational processing, mimicking natural infection. By stimulating immunity to a combination of epitopes, it may be possible to develop prophylactic and even therapeutic vaccines to tackle major health problems including those of non-microbial and microbial origin, including cancer, or an infectious disease like HIV, where traditional vaccination approaches have failed.

Keywords: MSC, vaccination, adaptive immunity, antibodies, antigen delivery

Citation: Tomchuck SL, Norton EB, Garry RF, Bunnell BA, Morris CA, Freytag LC and Clements JD (2012) Mesenchymal stem cells as a novel vaccine platform. Front. Cell. Inf. Microbio. 2:140. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2012.00140

Received: 05 August 2012; Accepted: 22 October 2012;
Published online: 16 November 2012.

Edited by:

Lisa A. Morici, Tulane University School of Medicine, USA

Reviewed by:

Guan Zhu, Texas A&M University, USA
Pranela Rameshwar, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, USA

Copyright © 2012 Tomchuck, Norton, Garry, Bunnell, Morris, Freytag and Clements. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Elizabeth B. Norton, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane University School of Medicine, 1430 Tulane Ave, SL-38, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA. e-mail: enorton@tulane.edu

Present Address: Suzanne L. Tomchuck, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Laboratory of Mari H. Dallas, Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, 262 Danny Thomas Blvd., MS-321, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.

These authors equally contributed to this work.