Therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cells in multiple organs affected by COVID-19

Life Sci. 2021 Apr 15;278:119510. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2021.119510. Online ahead of print.


Currently, the world has been devastated by an unprecedented pandemic in this century. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has been causing disorders, dysfunction and morphophysiological alterations in multiple organs as the disease evolves. There is a great scientific community effort to obtain a therapy capable of reaching the multiple affected organs in order to contribute for tissue repair and regeneration. In this regard, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have emerged as potential candidates concerning the promotion of beneficial actions at different stages of COVID-19. MSCs are promising due to the observed therapeutic effects in respiratory preclinical models, as well as in cardiac, vascular, renal and nervous system models. Their immunomodulatory properties and secretion of paracrine mediators, such as cytokines, chemokines, growth factors and extracellular vesicles allow for long range tissue modulation and, particularly, blood-brain barrier crossing. This review focuses on SARS-CoV-2 impact to lungs, kidneys, heart, vasculature and central nervous system while discussing promising MSC's therapeutic mechanisms in each tissue. In addition, MSC's therapeutic effects in high-risk groups for COVID-19, such as obese, diabetic and hypertensive patients are also explored.

Keywords: Cell therapy; Cytokine storm; Immunomodulation; MSC; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review