Mesenchymal stem cell-based therapy for autoimmune diseases: emerging roles of extracellular vesicles

Mol Biol Rep. 2019 Feb;46(1):1533-1549. doi: 10.1007/s11033-019-04588-y. Epub 2019 Jan 8.


In autoimmune disease body's own immune system knows healthy cells as undesired and foreign cells. Over 80 types of autoimmune diseases have been recognized. Currently, at clinical practice, treatment strategies for autoimmune disorders are based on relieving symptoms and preventing difficulties. In other words, there is no effective and useful therapy up to now. It has been well-known that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) possess immunomodulatory effects. This strongly suggests that MSCs might be as a novel modality for treatment of autoimmune diseases. Supporting this notion a few preclinical and clinical studies indicate that MSCs ameliorate autoimmune disorders. Interestingly, it has been found that the beneficial effects of MSCs in autoimmune disorders are not relying only on direct cell-to-cell communication but on their capability to produce a broad range of paracrine factors including growth factors, cytokines and extracellular vehicles (EVs). EVs are multi-signal messengers that play a serious role in intercellular signaling through carrying cargo such as mRNA, miRNA, and proteins. Numerous studies have shown that MSC-derived EVs are able to mimic the effects of the cell of origin on immune cells. In this review, we discuss the current studies dealing with MSC-based therapies in autoimmune diseases and provide a vision and highlight in order to introduce MSC-derived EVs as an alternative and emerging modality for autoimmune disorders.

Keywords: Autoimmune diseases; Cell-free therapy; Extracellular vesicles; Immune cells; Mesenchymal stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*