Mesenchymal stem cells can suppress life-threatening immune reaction

Published 2008-05-09 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:29

Treatment with mesenchymal stem cells (MCS) has shown to be an effective therapy for patients with severe graft-versus-host disease, a life-threatening complication after allogeneic transplantation with haemopoietic stem cells.

In a European study, led from Karolinska Institutet and the Karolinska University Hospital, 55 patients were treated with mesenchymal stem cells. All patients had initially been transplanted with haemopoietic stem cells as treatment for a malignant or non-malignant disorder. Severe steroid-resistant graft-versus-host disease had developed after this transplantation.

Of 55 patients, 30 showed complete response and nine showed improvements. No patients had side-effects after infusions of mesenchymal stem cells. The overall survival two years after the haemopoietic stem cell transplantation was lower among complete responders.

Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent bone-marrow cells previously shown to suppress activation of immune cells and inflammation. They do not induce immune activation, not even after allogeneic transplantation.


LeBlanc K, Frassoni F, Ball L, Locatelli F, Roelofs H, Lewis I, Lanino E, Sundberg B, Bernardo ME, Remberger M, Dini G, Egeler RM, Bacigalupo A, Fibbe W, Ringdén O.

Mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of steroid-resistant, severe, acute graft-versus-host disease: a phase II study

Lancet (2008) 371:1579-1586.