Dissecting the Role of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: Cause or Solution

Front Pharmacol. 2021 Jul 5;12:692551. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.692551. eCollection 2021.

Abstract

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is one of the most aggressive forms of idiopathic interstitial pneumonias, characterized by chronic and progressive fibrosis subverting the lung's architecture, pulmonary functional decline, progressive respiratory failure, and high mortality (median survival 3 years after diagnosis). Among the mechanisms associated with disease onset and progression, it has been hypothesized that IPF lungs might be affected either by a regenerative deficit of the alveolar epithelium or by a dysregulation of repair mechanisms in response to alveolar and vascular damage. This latter might be related to the progressive dysfunction and exhaustion of the resident stem cells together with a process of cellular and tissue senescence. The role of endogenous mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) resident in the lung in the homeostasis of these mechanisms is still a matter of debate. Although endogenous MSCs may play a critical role in lung repair, they are also involved in cellular senescence and tissue ageing processes with loss of lung regenerative potential. In addition, MSCs have immunomodulatory properties and can secrete anti-fibrotic factors. Thus, MSCs obtained from other sources administered systemically or directly into the lung have been investigated for lung epithelial repair and have been explored as a potential therapy for the treatment of lung diseases including IPF. Given these multiple potential roles of MSCs, this review aims both at elucidating the role of resident lung MSCs in IPF pathogenesis and the role of administered MSCs from other sources for potential IPF therapies.

Keywords: cell based therapy; exosomes; extracellular matrix; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; mesenchymal stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review