Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cell therapy and risk of malignancies

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2013 Feb;9(1):65-79. doi: 10.1007/s12015-011-9345-4.


Cell therapy with Multipotent Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSC) holds enormous promise for the treatment of a large number of degenerative and immune/inflammatory diseases. Their multilineage differentiation potential, immunoprivilege and capacity of promoting recovery of damaged tissues coupled with anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties are the focus of a multitude of clinical studies currently underway. The recognized clinical potential of MSC repairing/immunomodulatory effects now encompasses graft-versus-host disease, hematologic malignancies, cardiovascular diseases, neurologic and inherited diseases, autoimmune diseases, organ transplantation, refractory wounds, and bone/cartilage defects among others. However, it has been suggested that both the need of extensive ex vivo culture for MSC clinical use, and their proangiogenic, anti-apoptotic and immunomodulatory properties may act together as tumor promoters, raising significant safety concerns. This paper will review the available data on in vitro MSC maldifferentiation and the ability of MSC to sustain tumor growth in vivo, with the aim to clarify whether MSC-based therapeutic approaches may carry actual risk of malignancies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods*
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / transplantation
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*