We show here that human and mouse mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be obtained not only from bone marrow (BM), but also from adult spleen and thymus. In vitro, both human and mouse spleen- and thymus-derived MSCs exhibit immunophenotypic characteristics and differentiation potential completely comparable to BM-MSCs. In addition, they can inhibit immune responses mediated by activated T lymphocytes with efficiency comparable to BM-MSCs. In vivo, mouse MSCs from BM, spleen, and thymus, if injected together with a genetically modified tumor cell vaccine, can equally prevent the onset of an anti-tumor memory immune response, thus leading to tumor growth in normally resistant mice. Our data suggest that not only do spleen and thymus have a stem cell reservoir to build up their stromal architecture, but also contain microenviromental immunoregulatory cells with the same properties of BM-MSCs.
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