Concise review: current status of stem cells and regenerative medicine in lung biology and diseases

Stem Cells. 2014 Jan;32(1):16-25. doi: 10.1002/stem.1506.


Lung diseases remain a significant and devastating cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In contrast to many other major diseases, lung diseases notably chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPDs), including both asthma and emphysema, are increasing in prevalence and COPD is expected to become the third leading cause of disease mortality worldwide by 2020. New therapeutic options are desperately needed. A rapidly growing number of investigations of stem cells and cell therapies in lung biology and diseases as well as in ex vivo lung bioengineering have offered exciting new avenues for advancing knowledge of lung biology as well as providing novel potential therapeutic approaches for lung diseases. These initial observations have led to a growing exploration of endothelial progenitor cells and mesenchymal stem (stromal) cells in clinical trials of pulmonary hypertension and COPD with other clinical investigations planned. Ex vivo bioengineering of the trachea, larynx, diaphragm, and the lung itself with both biosynthetic constructs as well as decellularized tissues have been used to explore engineering both airway and vascular systems of the lung. Lung is thus a ripe organ for a variety of cell therapy and regenerative medicine approaches. Current state-of-the-art progress for each of the above areas will be presented as will discussion of current considerations for cell therapy-based clinical trials in lung diseases.

Keywords: Bioengineering; Cell therapy; Embryonic stem cell; Endogenous progenitor cell; Endothelial progenitor cell; Induced pluripotent stem cell; Lung; Lung diseases; Lung regeneration; Mesenchymal stem cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Lung Diseases / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / therapy*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Regenerative Medicine / methods*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Transplantation, Homologous