Introduction: Advances in immuno-modulatory therapies, including anti-TNF-α therapies, have greatly increased the chance to achieve long-term remission of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. However, as the importance of mucosal healing has been demonstrated in a number of clinical studies, new cell-based therapies that can regenerate and fully restore the intestinal mucosal functions are currently under development.
Area covered: In this review, we feature the recent challenges of cell-based therapies that are applied to the treatment of IBD. In particular, we will focus on hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and intestinal stem cells (ISCs) as the candidate source for cell-based therapy targeted to treat IBD. The current status, as well as the expected advantages and disadvantages of those transplantations will be summarized and discussed.
Expert opinion: Transplantation of HSC, MSC and ISC may have different levels of potential in their ability to exert an immunomodulatory or pro-regenerative effect. Combined cell therapies, such as co-transplantation of MSC and ISC, may provide improved therapeutic outcome compared to transplantation of a single cell population. Those cell-based therapies may not only improve the disease activity or tissue regeneration, but may also have the potential to decrease the risk of developing colitis-associated cancers.
Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease; hematopoietic stem cells; intestinal stem cells; mesenchymal stem cells; stem cell transplantation.