Opportunities and challenges of COVID-19 therapy using mesenchymal stem cells and their exosomes
Zhang Yuqing, Wu Jun
Center for Excellence in Molecular Cell Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology/Cell Bank, Type Culture Collection of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly contagious, rapidly variable, and dangerous infectious disease. However, no specific and effective treatment for COVID-19 is available until now. The safety and efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells and their exosomes have been well verified in numerous clinical trials. Their immunomodulatory and tissue regeneration capabilities may support them as a prospective therapy for COVID-19 application in the clinic.
OBJECTIVE: To focus on the development, pathogenesis and the current treatment status of COVID-19, efficacy and possible immunomodulatory mechanisms of mesenchymal stem cells and their exosomes for COVID-19 so as to provide new insights into the clinical treatment for the disease in the future.
METHODS: Articles were searched on PubMed and CNKI with the key words of “SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, cytokine storm, acute respiratory distress syndrome, mesenchymal stem cells, exosomes, immune regulation, tissue repair” in Chinese and English. Finally, 64 articles were collected for this review.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute lung injury caused by cytokine storm are the primary precipitating factors of death in individuals with COVID-19. Mesenchymal stem cells and their exosomes can effectively treat the symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome and repair the damaged lung tissue in COVID-19 patients by reducing the cytokine storm and promoting the regeneration of alveolar epithelial cells through the interaction with immune cells and their paracrine effects. All of these investigations confirmed that mesenchymal stem cells and their exosomes can fight the COVID-19 infection, and this might be a promising, safe and effective strategy. However, more preclinical studies and randomized, controlled clinical trials are needed to conduct the biodistribution, metabolic fate, and the potential treatment risks of mesenchymal stem cells and their derived exosomes in vivo to fully exploit their clinical efficacy.
Key words: SARS-COV-2, COVID-19, cytokine storm, acute respiratory distress syndrome, mesenchymal stem cell, exosome, immune regulation, tissue repair