Concise Review: Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Pediatric Disease: Perspectives on Success and Potential Improvements

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2017 Feb;6(2):539-565. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2015-0427. Epub 2016 Sep 13.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent a potentially revolutionary therapy for a wide variety of pediatric diseases, but the optimal cell-based therapeutics for such diversity have not yet been specified. The published clinical trials for pediatric pulmonary, cardiac, orthopedic, endocrine, neurologic, and hematologic diseases provide evidence that MSCs are indeed efficacious, but the significant heterogeneity in therapeutic approaches between studies raises new questions. The purpose of this review is to stimulate new preclinical and clinical trials to investigate these factors. First, we discuss recent clinical trials for pediatric diseases studying MSCs obtained from bone marrow, umbilical cord and umbilical cord blood, placenta, amniotic fluid, and adipose tissue. We then identify factors, some unique to pediatrics, which must be examined to optimize therapeutic efficacy, including route of administration, dose, timing of administration, the role of ex vivo differentiation, cell culture techniques, donor factors, host factors, and the immunologic implications of allogeneic therapy. Finally, we discuss some of the practicalities of bringing cell-based therapy into the clinic, including regulatory and manufacturing considerations. The aim of this review is to inform future studies seeking to maximize therapeutic efficacy for each disease and for each patient. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017;6:539-565.

Keywords: Autism; Bronchopulmonary dysplasia; Graft versus host disease; Mesenchymal stem cells; Osteogenesis imperfecta; Pediatric diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Donor Selection / trends
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / trends*
  • Pediatrics / trends*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome