Numerous preclinical and clinical studies suggest that mesenchymal stem cells, also known as multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), may improve pathologic conditions involving different organs. These beneficial effects initially were ascribed to the differentiation of MSCs into organ parenchymal cells. However, at least in the kidney, this is a very rare event and the kidney-protective effects of MSCs have been attributed mainly to paracrine mechanisms. MSCs release a number of trophic, anti-inflammatory, and immune-modulatory factors that may limit kidney injury and favor recovery. In this article, we provide an overview of the biologic activities of MSCs that may be relevant for the treatment of kidney injury in the context of a case vignette concerning a patient at high immunologic risk who underwent a second kidney transplantation followed by the development of ischemia-reperfusion injury and acute allograft rejection. We discuss the possible beneficial effect of MSC treatment in the light of preclinical and clinical data supporting the regenerative and immunomodulatory potential of MSCs.
Copyright © 2013 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.