ABCB5+ dermal mesenchymal stromal cells with favorable skin homing and local immunomodulation for recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa treatment

Julia Riedl, Michael Pickett-Leonard, Cindy Eide, Mark Andreas Kluth, Christoph Ganss, Natasha Y. Frank, Markus H. Frank, Christen L. Ebens, Jakub Tolar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) is a rare, incurable blistering skin disease caused by biallelic mutations in type VII collagen (C7). Advancements in treatment of RDEB have come from harnessing the immunomodulatory potential of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Although human bone marrow-derived MSC (BM-MSC) trials in RDEB demonstrate improvement in clinical severity, the mechanisms of MSC migration to and persistence in injured skin and their contributions to wound healing are not completely understood. A unique subset of MSCs expressing ATP-binding cassette subfamily member 5 (ABCB5) resides in the reticular dermis and exhibits similar immunomodulatory characteristics to BM-MSCs. Our work aimed to test the hypothesis that skin-derived ABCB5+ dermal MSCs (DSCs) possess superior skin homing ability compared to BM-MSCs in immunodeficient NOD-scid IL2rgammanull (NSG) mice. Compared to BM-MSCs, peripherally injected ABCB5+ DSCs demonstrated superior homing and engraftment of wounds. Furthermore, ABCB5+ DSCs vs BM-MSCs cocultured with macrophages induced less anti-inflammatory interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) production. RNA sequencing of ABCB5+ DSCs compared to BM-MSCs showed unique expression of major histocompatibility complex class II and Homeobox (Hox) genes, specifically HOXA3. Critical to inducing migration of endothelial and epithelial cells for wound repair, increased expression of HOXA3 may explain superior skin homing properties of ABCB5+ DSCs. Further discernment of the immunomodulatory mechanisms among MSC populations could have broader regenerative medicine implications beyond RDEB treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-903
Number of pages7
Issue number7
Early online dateFeb 20 2021
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Carpe Scientia Tolar Lab writing group provided critical feedback of manuscript drafts. We thank Dr David Woodley for his kind gift of the collagen VII antibody. This research was conducted with funding support from NIH grant NHLBI R01 AR063070, EB Charities, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, the Zona Family Foundation for EB Research, and NIH grant P30 CA77598, the latter supporting the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core shared resource of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, and by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award Number UL1TR002494 and KL2TR002492. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 AlphaMed Press.


  • bone marrow stem cells
  • cellular therapy
  • clinical translation
  • homeobox genes
  • mesenchymal stem cells

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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