The Crosstalk between Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Macrophages in Bone Regeneration: A Systematic Review

Rita Lih Ying Shin, Chien Wei Lee, Oscar Yuan Jie Shen, Hongtao Xu, Oscar Kuang Sheng Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Bone regeneration is a complex and well-coordinated process that involves crosstalk between immune cells and resident cells in the injury site. Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is a promising strategy to enhance bone regeneration. Growing evidence suggests that macrophages have a significant impact on osteogenesis during bone regeneration. However, the precise mechanisms by which macrophage subtypes influence bone regeneration and how MSCs communicate with macrophages have not yet been fully elucidated. In this systematic literature review, we gathered evidence regarding the crosstalk between MSCs and macrophages during bone regeneration. According to the PRISMA protocol, we extracted literature from PubMed and Embase databases by using "mesenchymal stem cells"and "macrophages"and "bone regeneration"as keywords. Thirty-three studies were selected for this review. MSCs isolated from both bone marrow and adipose tissue and both primary macrophages and macrophage cell lines were used in the selected studies. In conclusion, anti-inflammatory macrophages (M2) have significantly more potential to strengthen bone regeneration compared with naïve (M0) and classically activated macrophages (M1). Transplantation of MSCs induced M1-to-M2 transition and transformed the skeletal microenvironment to facilitate bone regeneration in bone fracture and bone defect models. This review highlights the complexity between MSCs and macrophages, providing more insight into the polarized macrophage behavior in this evolving field of osteoimmunology. The results may serve as a useful reference for definite success in MSC-based therapy based on the critical interaction with macrophages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8835156
Number of pages21
JournalStem Cells International
StatePublished - Jun 2021


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