Patients with immune deficiencies from cancers and associated treatments represent a growing population within the intensive care unit with increased risk of morbidity and mortality from sepsis. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are an integral part of the hematopoietic niche and express toll-like receptors, making them candidate cells to sense and translate pathogenic signals into an innate immune response. In this study, we demonstrate that MSCs administered therapeutically in a murine model of radiation-associated neutropenia have dual actions to confer a survival benefit in Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumo-sepsis that is not from improved bacterial clearance. First, MSCs augment the neutrophil response to infection, an effect that is enhanced when MSCs are preconditioned with CpG oligodeoxynucleotide, a toll-like receptor 9 agonist. Using cytometry by time of flight, we identified proliferating neutrophils (Ly6GlowKi-67+) as the main expanded cell population within the bone marrow. Further analysis revealed that CpG-MSCs expand a lineage restricted progenitor population (Lin-Sca1+C-kit+CD150-CD48+) in the bone marrow, which corresponded to a doubling in the myeloid proliferation and differentiation potential in response to infection compared with control. Despite increased neutrophils, no reduction in organ bacterial count was observed between experimental groups. However, the second effect exerted by CpG-MSCs is to attenuate organ damage, particularly in the lungs. Neutrophils obtained from irradiated mice and cocultured with CpG-MSCs had decreased neutrophil extracellular trap formation, which was associated with decreased citrullinated H3 staining in the lungs of mice given CpG-MSCs in vivo. Thus, this preclinical study provides evidence for the therapeutic potential of MSCs in neutropenic sepsis.
© 2020 by The American Society of Hematology.