Peripheral Blood Immune Cell Composition After Autologous MSC Infusion in Kidney Transplantation Recipients

Sanne H. Hendriks, Sebastiaan Heidt, Axel R. Schulz, Johan W. de Fijter, Marlies E.J. Reinders, Frits Koning, Cees van Kooten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Tacrolimus is the backbone of immunosuppressive agents to prevent transplant rejection. Paradoxically, tacrolimus is nephrotoxic, causing irreversible tubulointerstitial damage. Therefore, infusion of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) 6 and 7 weeks post-transplantation was assessed to facilitate withdrawal of tacrolimus in the randomized phase II TRITON trial. Here, we performed detailed analysis of the peripheral blood immune composition using mass cytometry to assess potential effects of MSC therapy on the immune system. We developed two metal-conjugated antibody panels containing 40 antibodies each. PBMC samples from 21 MSC-treated patients and 13 controls, obtained pre-transplant and at 24 and 52 weeks post-transplantation, were analyzed. In the MSC group at 24 weeks, 17 CD4+ T cell clusters were increased of which 14 Th2-like clusters and three Th1/Th2-like clusters, as well as CD4+FoxP3+ Tregs. Additionally, five B cell clusters were increased, representing either class switched memory B cells or proliferating B cells. At 52 weeks, CCR7+CD38+ mature B cells were decreased. Finally, eight Tc1 (effector) memory cytotoxic T cell clusters were increased. Our work provides a comprehensive account of the peripheral blood immune cell composition in kidney transplant recipients after MSC therapy and tacrolimus withdrawal. These results may help improving therapeutic strategies using MSCs with the aim to reduce the use of calcineurin inhibitors. Clinical Trial Registration:, identifier NCT02057965.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11329
Number of pages11
JournalTransplant International
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Hendriks, Heidt, Schulz, de Fijter, Reinders, Koning and van Kooten.


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