Leishmaniasis is of public health problems, especially in endemic areas.Activating macrophages as the main host of leishmania and promoting the TH1 immune responses is the main goal of immunotherapymethods. Recently, the immunomodulatory role of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in infectious disease has been considered. Different in vitro studies demonstrated the immunostimulatory effect of MSCs on macrophag-es in response to L.major. In this study, the effect of MSCs on cutaneous leishmaniasis in BALB/c mice was assessed.
To do this experimental research, BALB/c mice infected with L.major that was followed by multiple sub-cutaneous injection of MSCs at infection site at different intervals. Footpad thickness, spleen parasite bur-den, lymph node and spleen cytokine production were measured to determine the efficacy of the cell therapy.
Significant (p≤ o.o5) reduction in footpad thickness and delayed wound formation was observed in MSCs treated group. Spleen of MSCs treated group indicated two-fold reduction in parasite burden compared with non-treated infected mice.In addition, nitric oxide, IL-10 and TNF-α production of lymph node iso-lated cells and splenocytes changed to the benefit of macrophage activation in response to L.major in MSCs treated group. Two fold increase in IFN-γ production in the lymph node was determined in MSCs treated group.
Although MSCs therapy could not clear the parasite, the results confirm the ability of MSCs in enhancing immune responses against leishmania by induction of inflammatory responses and slowing down the spread of parasites. However, further studies needed to improve the efficacy of this method and provide a thera-peutic protocol.