Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells capable of differentiation into mesenchymal lineages and that can be isolated from various tissues and easily cultivated in vitro. Currently, MSCs are of considerable interest because of the biological characteristics that confer high potential applicability in the clinical treatment of many diseases. Specifically, because of their high immunoregulatory capacity, MSCs are used as tools in cellular therapies for clinical protocols involving immune system alterations. In this review, we discuss the current knowledge about the capacity of MSCs for the immunoregulation of immunocompetent cells and emphasize the effects of MSCs on T cells, principal effectors of the immune response, and the immunosuppressive effects mediated by the secretion of soluble factors and membrane molecules. We also describe the mechanisms of MSC immunoregulatory modulation and the participation of MSCs as immune response regulators in several autoimmune diseases, and we emphasize the clinical application in graft versus host disease (GVHD).
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