Transplanting stem cells: potential targets for immune attack. Modulating the immune response against embryonic stem cell transplantation.
Boyd AS., Higashi Y., Wood KJ.
The curative promise of stem cells and their descendants for tissue regeneration and repair is currently the subject of an intense research effort worldwide. If it proves feasible to differentiate stem cells into specific tissues reliably and safely, this approach will be invaluable in the treatment of diseases that lead to organ degeneration or failure, providing an alternative or supplementary source of tissue for transplantation. Embryonic stem (ES) cells are pluripotent cells derived from the inner cell mass of a pre-implantation blastocyst that can produce all cells and tissues of the foetus. In recent years, several laboratories have described the directed differentiation of ES cells into multiple mature cell types including: cardiomyocytes; haemopoietic cells; hepatocytes; neurones; muscle cells and both endocrine and exocrine cells of the pancreas. How the immune system of the host will respond when these ES cell-derived mature cells are transplanted is ill defined. This review will focus on the potential mechanisms that the immune system could use to target ES cell-derived transplants and how unwanted responses might be prevented.