Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute respiratory infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 mainly causes damage to the lung, as well as other organs and systems such as the hearts, the immune system and so on. Although the pathogenesis of COVID-19 has been fully elucidated, there is no specific therapy for the disease at present, and most treatments are limited to supportive care.
Stem cell therapy may be a potential treatment for refractory and unmanageable pulmonary illnesses, which has shown some promising results in preclinical studies. In this review, we systematically summarize the pathogenic progression and potential mechanisms underlying stem cell therapy in COVID-19, and registered COVID-19 clinical trials. Of all the stem cell therapies touted for COVID-19 treatment, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) or MSC-like derivatives have been the most promising in preclinical studies and clinical trials so far.
MSCs have been suggested to ameliorate the cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and protect alveolar epithelial cells by secreting many kinds of factors, demonstrating safety and possible efficacy in COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
However, considering the consistency and uniformity of stem cell quality cannot be quantified nor guaranteed at this point, more work remains to be done in the future.