Treatment of COVID-19-associated ARDS with mesenchymal stromal cells: a multicenter randomized double-blind trial

Crit Care. 2022 Feb 21;26(1):48. doi: 10.1186/s13054-022-03930-4.


Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2)-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) causes high mortality. Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (UC-MSCs) have potentially relevant immune-modulatory properties, whose place in ARDS treatment is not established. This phase 2b trial was undertaken to assess the efficacy of UC-MSCs in patients with SARS-CoV-2-induced ARDS.

Methods: This multicentre, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (STROMA-CoV-2) recruited adults (≥ 18 years) with SARS-CoV-2-induced early (< 96 h) mild-to-severe ARDS in 10 French centres. Patients were randomly assigned to receive three intravenous infusions of 106 UC-MSCs/kg or placebo (0.9% NaCl) over 5 days after recruitment. For the modified intention-to-treat population, the primary endpoint was the partial pressure of oxygen to fractional inspired oxygen (PaO2/FiO2)-ratio change between baseline (day (D) 0) and D7.

Results: Among the 107 patients screened for eligibility from April 6, 2020, to October 29, 2020, 45 were enrolled, randomized and analyzed. PaO2/FiO2 changes between D0 and D7 did not differ significantly between the UC-MSCs and placebo groups (medians [IQR] 54.3 [- 15.5 to 93.3] vs 25.3 [- 33.3 to 104.6], respectively; ANCOVA estimated treatment effect 7.4, 95% CI - 44.7 to 59.7; P = 0.77). Six (28.6%) of the 21 UC-MSCs recipients and six of 24 (25%) placebo-group patients experienced serious adverse events, none of which were related to UC-MSCs treatment.

Conclusions: D0-to-D7 PaO2/FiO2 changes for intravenous UC-MSCs-versus placebo-treated adults with SARS-CoV-2-induced ARDS did not differ significantly. Repeated UC-MSCs infusions were not associated with any serious adverse events during treatment or thereafter (until D28). Larger trials enrolling patients earlier during the course of their ARDS are needed to further assess UC-MSCs efficacy in this context.

Trial registration: NCT04333368. Registered 01 April 2020, .

Keywords: Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Good-manufacturing practice; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2; Umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome* / therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data