Understanding Role of Perinatal Cells as Potential Therapy for Autoimmune Disorders

December, 2019 – A recently published study from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) highlights the anti-inflammatory properties of perinatal cells, collected from discarded placentas or amniotic fluid that are donated after healthy births. This study demonstrated a potential new role of perinatal cells as a therapy to target autoimmune diseases.
For the study, WFIRM researchers compared the ability of cells from the placenta, amniotic fluid and bone marrow in reducing inflammation. Immune cells were isolated from the blood of healthy individuals and stimulated in the laboratory to activate inflammation.

The impact of the various cell types in the inflammatory response were then evaluated. The researchers showed that the presence of placental cells suppressed an immune subgroup called Th1 lymphocytes. Th1 lymphocytes are known to be involved in several types of autoimmune diseases. "These findings confirm that placental cells have anti-inflammatory properties that can be used to target autoimmune diseases that involve Th1 lymphocytes," said lead author Sean Murphy, PhD, assistant professor of regenerative medicine at WFIRM.
Many other inflammatory diseases involve a defective response of Th1 lymphocyte leading to disease and long-term health problems. Unfortunately, current therapies fall short in preventing disease progression and improving patient outcomes.

"New therapies that can target the inflammatory environment would have a major impact in preventing the progression of inflammatory diseases," said Anthony Atala, MD, a co-author of the paper and director of WFIRM.
The full study, titled “Stromal cells from perinatal and adult sources modulate the inflammatory immune response in vitro by decreasing Th cell proliferation and cytokine secretion,” can be accessed at STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.

This work was supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation ATALA1410, Cystic Fibrosis Pilot and Feasibility Award, and the Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation 668630. The authors, which also includes Oula Khoury, PhD, of WFIRM, report no conflicts of interest.