Purpose of review
Stem cell therapy for intestinal diseases is an emerging area in clinical gastroenterology. We will review recent literature regarding mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which have been utilized in preclinical models and are now headed for clinical trials in several gastrointestinal diseases including inflammatory bowel disease.
Important studies over the last 2 years have made significant inroads into understanding the mechanisms of action of these cell types. The two major competing hypotheses are that MSCs home to areas of injury where they repair based on their stem cell activity or that MSCs act as a source of secreted factors that stimulate repair and inhibit inflammation.
Mesenchymal stem cells show promise for therapy in a number of intestinal diseases. Further understanding of their mechanism of action should improve our ability to use them therapeutically.