The assessment of mesenchymal stem cells therapy in acute on chronic liver failure and chronic liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2022 May 16;13(1):204. doi: 10.1186/s13287-022-02882-4.


Background: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) therapy is showing potential therapeutic effects on liver function improvement in patients with chronic liver disease; however, the consensus on efficacy and safety of MSCs has not been reached.

Methods: We performed this systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate the efficacy and safety of MSCs therapy for patients with chronic liver disease. A detailed search of the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, Web of Science, and EMBASE databases was conducted to find studies published prior to September 15, 2021. The outcome measures were survival rate, model of end-stage liver disease (MELD) score, albumin, total bilirubin, coagulation function, and aminotransferase.

Results: A literature search resulted in 892 citations. Of these, 12 studies met the inclusion criteria. It was found that compared with conventional treatment, MSCs therapy was associated with improved liver function including the MELD score, albumin levels, and coagulation function. However, it had no obvious beneficial effects on survival rate and aminotransferase levels. Subgroup analyses indicated that MSCs therapy had therapeutic effects on patients with both acute on chronic liver failure (ACLF) and cirrhosis. BM-MSCs and UC-MSCs treatment had similar efficacy to improve liver function. The effectiveness varied slightly between the peripheral intravenous injection and hepatic arterial injection. Five studies reported that the only adverse event of the MSCs therapy was fever, and no serious adverse events and side effects were reported. Analysis on clinical symptoms showed that encephalopathy and gastrointestinal hemorrhage events were reduced after MSCs therapy.

Conclusions: In conclusion, this study suggested that MSCs therapy could be a potential therapeutic alternative for patients with chronic liver disease in clinical practice.

Keywords: Efficacy; Liver disease; Mesenchymal stem cells; Meta-analysis; Safety.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure* / therapy
  • Albumins
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / therapy
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Transaminases


  • Albumins
  • Transaminases