Repair of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in COVID-19 by Stromal Cells (REALIST-COVID Trial): A Multicenter, Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2023 Aug 1;208(3):256-269. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202302-0297OC.


Rationale: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) may modulate inflammation, promoting repair in coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Objectives: We investigated the safety and efficacy of ORBCEL-C (CD362 [cluster of differentiation 362]-enriched, umbilical cord-derived MSCs) in COVID-19-related ARDS. Methods: In this multicenter, randomized, double-blind, allocation-concealed, placebo-controlled trial (NCT03042143), patients with moderate to severe COVID-19-related ARDS were randomized to receive ORBCEL-C (400 million cells) or placebo (Plasma-Lyte 148). The primary safety and efficacy outcomes were the incidence of serious adverse events and oxygenation index at Day 7, respectively. Secondary outcomes included respiratory compliance, driving pressure, PaO2:FiO2 ratio, and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score. Clinical outcomes relating to duration of ventilation, lengths of ICU and hospital stays, and mortality were collected. Long-term follow-up included diagnosis of interstitial lung disease at 1 year and significant medical events and mortality at 2 years. Transcriptomic analysis was performed on whole blood at Days 0, 4, and 7. Measurements and Main Results: Sixty participants were recruited (final analysis: n = 30 received ORBCEL-C, n = 29 received placebo; 1 participant in the placebo group withdrew consent). Six serious adverse events occurred in the ORBCEL-C group and three in the placebo group (risk ratio, 2.9 [95% confidence interval, 0.6-13.2]; P = 0.25). Day 7 mean (SD) oxygenation index did not differ (ORBCEL-C, 98.3 [57.2] cm H2O/kPa; placebo, 96.6 [67.3] cm H2O/kPa). There were no differences in secondary surrogate outcomes or in mortality at Day 28, Day 90, 1 year, or 2 years. There was no difference in the prevalence of interstitial lung disease at 1 year or significant medical events up to 2 years. ORBCEL-C modulated the peripheral blood transcriptome. Conclusion: ORBCEL-C MSCs were safe in subjects with moderate to severe COVID-19-related ARDS but did not improve surrogates of pulmonary organ dysfunction.

Keywords: acute respiratory distress syndrome; clinical trial; coronavirus disease; mesenchymal stromal cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome*
  • Stromal Cells

Associated data