Stem Cell Therapy May Reduce Lung Inflammation Associated with Cystic Fibrosis

Joana Fernandes, PhD avatar

by Joana Fernandes, PhD |

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CF stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy may reduce lung inflammation in cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to preliminary results of a pre-clinical-trial study.

The findings, presented at this year’s Lung Science Conference in Estoril, Portugal, could lead to new ways to treat the diseases. The title of the presentation was “Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy Reduces Inflammation And Damage In A Model Of Chronic Lung Disease.

Researchers investigated the benefits of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy in mice with chronic inflammatory lung disease, a condition that mimics important features of both COPD and CF.

MSCs are multipotent stem cells that can evolve into a variety of cell types, including adipocytes, or fat cells; osteoblasts, or bone cells; and myocytes, or muscle cells. Like other stem cell types, MSCs have a high capacity for self renewal while maintaining their multipotency. That means they have great tissue-repair potential.

Researchers administered MSCs by intravenous injection when mice were four and six weeks old. At eight weeks, the research team collected tissue and cell samples from the mice’s lungs. Results were compared with samples from untreated mice.

MSC therapy significantly reduced inflammation in the treated mice. The key indication was reduced levels of monocytic cells and neutrophils, or markers of inflammation.

Also, the lungs of treated mice had fewer signs of tissue damage, such as reductions in mean linear intercept scores. MSCs not only reduced inflammation, but also improved lung structure. That suggested that the therapy could become a valuable option for repairing lung damage.

“These preliminary findings demonstrate the potential effectiveness of MSC treatment as a means of repairing the damage caused by chronic lung diseases such as COPD,” Declan Doherty, the author of the study, said in a news release. “The ability to counteract inflammation in the lungs by utilizing the combined anti-inflammatory and reparative properties of MSCs could potentially reduce the inflammatory response in individuals with chronic lung disease whilst also restoring lung function in these patients.

“Although further research is needed to improve our understanding of how MSCs repair this damage, these findings suggest a promising role for MSC therapy in treating patients with chronic lung disease,” he added.

“This paper offers novel results in a pre-clinical model which demonstrates the potential of MSC stem cell therapy for the treatment of long-term lung conditions with exciting potential implications for the future treatment of patients with COPD and cystic fibrosis,” said Rachel Chambers, director of the European Respiratory Society’s conferences and research seminars program.

“Although still at an early stage in terms of translation to the human disease situation, this paper is one of many cutting-edge abstracts from the Lung Science Conference, which aims to provide an international platform to highlight novel experimental lung research with therapeutic potential.” Chambers added. “We rely on high quality basic and translational respiratory science, such as these latest findings, to develop novel therapeutic approaches for the millions of patients suffering from devastating and often fatal respiratory conditions.”