Stem cell therapy in pulmonary fibrosis

Purpose of review: In the last years, we have witnessed an explosion in preclinical data relating to the isolation, differentiation and application of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a treatment option in animal models of lung fibrosis and inflammation. The scope of this review is to summarize current knowledge regarding the roles of MSCs in lung tissue repair and regeneration and to highlight future therapeutic perspectives and clinical applications in safety and efficacy trials.

Recent findings: Although there have been interesting studies of cell therapy for diseases of many systems, there has been a paucity of preclinical and clinical studies regarding pulmonary fibrosis. Today, we have made progress with respect to the understanding of the mechanisms of action and application of MSCs in animal models of lung fibrosis as regulators of tissue remodeling and immune response. There are only a few ongoing clinical trials involving MSCs in chronic lung diseases and extrapolation of these data to underline future therapeutic applications in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Summary: Adult MSCs may prove to be a valuable therapeutic option in lung tissue rescue and repair based on their ready availability, immunomodulatory effects and capacity for cell differentiation.