Mesenchymal stem cells and extracellular vesicles for the treatment of pain: Current status and perspectives

Br J Pharmacol. 2022 Sep;179(17):4281-4299. doi: 10.1111/bph.15569. Epub 2021 Jun 24.


Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) are multipotent progenitor cells of mesodermal origin. Due to their capacity for self-renewal and differentiation into several cell types, MSCs have been extensively studied in experimental biology and regenerative medicine in recent years. Moreover, MSCs release extracellular vesicles (EVs), which might be partly responsible for their regenerative properties. MSCs regulate several processes in target cells via paracrine signalling, such as immunomodulation, anti-apoptotic signalling, tissue remodelling, angiogenesis and anti-fibrotic signalling. The aim of this review is to provide a detailed description of the functional properties of MSCs and EVs and their potential clinical applications, with a special focus on pain treatment. The analgesic, anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties of MSCs and EVs will be discussed for several diseases, such as neuropathic pain, osteoarthritis and spinal cord injury. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed issue on New discoveries and perspectives in mental and pain disorders. To view the other articles in this section visit

Keywords: chronic pain; extracellular vesicles; mesenchymal stromal/stem cells; pain; regenerative medicine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells*
  • Pain / metabolism
  • Paracrine Communication