Characterizing human mesenchymal stromal cells' immune-modulatory potency using targeted lipidomic profiling of sphingolipids.


Cell therapies are expected to increase over the next decade owing to increasing demand for clinical applications. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have been explored to treat a number of diseases, with some successes in early clinical trials. Despite early successes, poor MSC characterization results in lessened therapeutic capacity once in vivo. Here, we characterized MSCs derived from bone marrow (BM), adipose tissue and umbilical cord tissue for sphingolipids (SLs), a class of bioactive lipids, using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. We found that ceramide levels differed based on the donor's sex in BM-MSCs. We detected fatty acyl chain variants in MSCs from all three sources. Linear discriminant analysis revealed that MSCs separated based on tissue source. Principal component analysis showed that interferon-γ-primed and unstimulated MSCs separated according to their SL signature. Lastly, we detected higher ceramide levels in low indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase MSCs, indicating that sphingomyelinase or ceramidase enzymatic activity may be involved in their immune potency.





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Publication Info

DeVeaux, S'Dravious A, Molly E Ogle, Sofiya Vyshnya, Nathan F Chiappa, Bobby Leitmann, Ryan Rudy, Abigail Day, Luke J Mortensen, et al. (2022). Characterizing human mesenchymal stromal cells' immune-modulatory potency using targeted lipidomic profiling of sphingolipids. Cytotherapy. 10.1016/j.jcyt.2021.12.009 Retrieved from

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Joanne Kurtzberg

Jerome S. Harris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Kurtzberg is an internationally renowned expert in pediatric hematology/oncology, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation, umbilical cord blood banking and transplantation, and novel applications of cord blood and birthing tissues in the emerging fields of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.   Dr. Kurtzberg serves as the Director of the Marcus Center for Cellular Cures (MC3), Director of the Pediatric Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, Director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, and Co-Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Laboratory at Duke University.  The Carolinas Cord Blood Bank is an FDA licensed public cord blood bank distributing unrelated cord blood units for donors for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) through the CW Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.  The Robertson GMP Cell Manufacturing Laboratory supports manufacturing of RETHYMIC (BLA, Enzyvant, 2021), allogeneic cord tissue derived and bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), and DUOC, a microglial/macrophage cell derived from cord blood.

Dr. Kurtzberg’s research in MC3 focuses on translational studies from bench to bedside, seeking to develop transformative clinical therapies using cells, tissues, molecules, genes, and biomaterials to treat diseases and injuries that currently lack effective treatments. Recent areas of investigation in MC3 include clinical trials investigating the safety and efficacy of autologous and allogeneic cord blood in children with neonatal brain injury – hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy (CP), and autism. Clinical trials testing allogeneic cord blood are also being conducted in adults with acute ischemic stroke. Clinical trials optimizing manufacturing and testing the safety and efficacy of cord tissue MSCs in children with autism, CP and HIE and adults with COVID-lung disease are underway. DUOC, given intrathecally, is under study in children with leukodystrophies and adults with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

In the past, Dr. Kurtzberg has developed novel chemotherapeutic drugs for acute leukemias, assays enumerating ALDH bright cells to predict cord blood unit potency, methods of cord blood expansion, potency assays for targeted cell and tissue based therapies. Dr. Kurtzberg currently holds several INDs for investigational clinical trials from the FDA.  She has also trained numerous medical students, residents, clinical and post-doctoral fellows over the course of her career.

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