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  • Author or Editor: Jennifer M. Cassano x
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OBJECTIVE To determine whether major histocompatability complex (MHC) class II expression in equine mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) changes with exposure to a proinflammatory environment reflective of an inflamed joint.

SAMPLE Cryopreserved bone marrow-derived MSCs from 12 horses and cartilage and synovium samples from 1 horse euthanized for reasons other than lameness.

PROCEDURES In part 1 of a 3-part study, the suitability of a quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) assay for measurement of MHC class II expression in MSCs following stimulation with interferon (IFN)-γ was assessed. In part 2, synoviocyte-cartilage cocultures were or were not stimulated with interleukin (IL)-1β (10 ng/mL) to generate conditioned media that did and did not (control) mimic an inflamed joint environment. In part 3, a qRT-PCR assay was used to measure MSC MHC class II expression after 96 hours of incubation with 1 of 6 treatments (control-conditioned medium, IL-1β-conditioned medium, and MSC medium alone [untreated control] or with IL-1β [10 ng/mL], tumor necrosis factor-α [10 ng/mL], or IFN-γ [100 ng/mL]).

RESULTS The qRT-PCR assay accurately measured MHC class II expression. Compared with MHC class II expression for MSCs exposed to the untreated control medium, that for MSCs exposed to IL-1β was decreased, whereas that for MSCs exposed to IFN-γ was increased. Neither the control-conditioned nor tumor necrosis factor-α medium altered MHC class II expression.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that MSC exposure to proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β decreased MHC class II expression and antigenicity. Treatment of inflamed joints with allogeneic MSCs might not be contraindicated, but further investigation is warranted.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research



Mesenchymal stromal (stem) cells (MSCs) have been studied to treat many common orthopedic injuries in horses. However, there is limited information available on when and how to use this treatment effectively. The aim of this retrospective study is to report case features, treatment protocols, and clinical outcomes in horses treated with MSCs.


65 horses presenting with tendinous, ligamentous, and articular injuries, and treated with MSCs prepared by a single laboratory between 2016 and 2019. Outcome information was available for 26 horses.


Signalment, clinical signs, diagnostic methods, treatment protocol features (prior and concurrent therapies, cell origin, dose, application site and number), and effective outcomes were analyzed. The analysis was focused on comparing the effect of different MSC treatment protocols (eg, autologous vs allogeneic) on outcome rather than the effectiveness of MSC treatment.


MSC treatment resulted in 59.1% (clinical lameness) to 76.9% (imaging structure) improvement in horses with diverse ages, breeds, sex, and lesions. The use of other therapeutic methods before MSC application (eg, anti-inflammatories, shockwave, laser, icing, resting, bandage and stack wrap, intra-articular injections, and/or surgical debridement) was shown to be statistically more effective compared to MSCs used as the primary therapeutic procedure (P < .05). Autologous versus allogeneic treatment outcomes were not significantly different.


A prospective MSC treatment study with standardization and controls to evaluate the different features of MSC treatment protocols is needed. The various case presentations and treatment protocols evaluated can be used to inform practitioners who are currently using MSCs in clinical practice.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research