Introduction: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) possess remarkable self-renewal ability and are able to differentiate into various cell lineages. MSCs can also enhance tissue repair and angiogenesis through a paracrine mechanism. It has been recognized that these cells hold great promise for tissue regeneration and treatment of immune-related diseases.
Areas covered: This review aims at discussing the mechanisms of MSC-mediated immunomodulation and tissue repair and the related clinical trials, with special emphasis on factors that influence the efficiency of MSC-based therapy, including the source of MSCs, cell passage, cell dose, timing and route of administration.
Expert opinion: MSCs may facilitate tissue repair through cell replacement and/or improving the microenvironment by releasing growth factors. Some of these factors also mediate the immunomodulatory effects of MSCs. It is important to establish global guidelines, protocols and standards for production and clinical trials of MSCs, so that MSCs can become a therapeutic agent with a reliable efficacy and good safety.