Human mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (hMSCs) show great promise in cell therapy due to their immunomodulatory properties. The overall immunomodulatory response of hMSCs resembles the resolution of inflammation, in which lipid mediators and regulatory macrophages (Mregs) play key roles. We investigated the effect of hMSC cell-cell contact and secretome on macrophages polarized and activated toward Mreg phenotype. Moreover, we studied the effect of supplemented polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs): docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid, the precursors of lipid mediators, on hMSC immunomodulation. Our results show that unlike hMSC cell-cell contact, the hMSC secretome markedly increased the CD206 expression in both Mreg-polarized and Mreg-activated macrophages. Moreover, the secretome enhanced the expression of programmed death-ligand 1 on Mreg-polarized macrophages and Mer receptor tyrosine kinase on Mreg-activated macrophages. Remarkably, these changes were translated into improved Candida albicans
phagocytosis activity of macrophages. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the hMSC secretome promotes the immunoregulatory and proresolving phenotype of Mregs. Intriguingly, DHA supplementation to hMSCs resulted in a more potentiated immunomodulation with increased CD163 expression and decreased gene expression of matrix metalloproteinase 2 in Mreg-polarized macrophages. These findings highlight the potential of PUFA supplementations as an easy and safe method to improve the hMSC therapeutic potential.
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