Four out of the ten leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide are lung diseases. Despite advances in comprehending the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in these disorders, for several respiratory diseases, there is still no effective treatment able to stop their natural history or reverse the morphological and functional damage they cause. In this context, recent research has supported a potential role of cell therapy for lung diseases and critical illness. The anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic, and microbicidal effects of stem cells are mainly attributed to their secretome, which contains proteins, lipids, microRNAs, and mRNAs. These are secreted in the conditioned medium and are also present in extracellular vesicles (EVs). This review will provide a detailed discussion of the role of EVs produced by mesenchymal stromal cells in preclinical experimental models of pulmonary disorders and critical illness, as well as in ongoing clinical trials.
Keywords: Extracellular vesicles (EVs); exosomes; lung diseases; microvesicles; regenerative medicine.