Umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cell transplantations: A systemic analysis of clinical trials

Cytotherapy. 2017 Dec;19(12):1351-1382. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2017.08.004. Epub 2017 Sep 28.


The advances and success of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (UC-MSCs) in experimental disease animal models have fueled the development of targeted therapies in humans. The therapeutic potential of allogeneic transplantation of UC-MSCs has been under examination since 2009. The purpose of this systematic analysis was to review the published results, limitations and obstacles for UC-MSC transplantation. An extensive search strategy was applied to the published literature, 93 peer-reviewed full-text articles and abstracts were found published by early August 2017 that investigated the safety, efficacy and feasibility of UC-MSCs in 2001 patients with 53 distinct pathologies including many systemic/local, acute/chronic conditions. Few data were extracted from the abstracts and/or Chinese-written articles (n = 7, 8%). Importantly, no long-term adverse effects, tumor formation or cell rejection were reported. All studies noted certain degrees of therapeutic benefit as evidenced by clinical symptoms and/or laboratory findings. Thirty-seven percent (n = 34) of studies were found published as a single case (n = 10; 11%) or 2-10 case reports (n = 24; 26%) with no control group. Due to the nature of many stem cell-based studies, the majority of patients also received conventional therapy regimens, which obscured the pure efficacy of the cells transplanted. Randomized, blind, phase 1/2 trials with control groups (placebo-controlled) showed more plausible results. Given that most UC-MSC trials are early phase, the internationally recognized cell isolation and preparation standards should be extended to future phase 2/3 trials to reach more convincing conclusions regarding the safety and efficacy of UC-MSC therapies.

Keywords: Wharton's jelly; clinical trial; mesenchymal stem/stromal cell; regenerative medicine; systemic review; umbilical cord.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Umbilical Cord / cytology*