A ground-breaking experiment using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) injected into mice models of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis showed that MSC therapy might be a promising approach to treating these lung diseases in humans.
Treatment with MSCs successfully reduced the number of inflammatory cells in the lungs of the animals, and improved lung structure, indicating that the therapy might be used to repair damaged lung tissue.
The findings were reported at the 2017 Lung Science Conference in Estoril, Portugal, in March, according to a press release from the European Respiratory Society (ERS), which hosted the conference. The presentation was titled “Mesenchymal stem cell therapy reduces inflammation and damage in a model of chronic lung disease.”
MSCs can divide and become a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), myocytes (muscle cells), and adipocytes (fat cells).
Researchers at Queens University Belfast injected MCCs into mice with lung disease at four and six weeks of age. A control group did not receive MSCs. At eight weeks, the lungs of all the mice were examined.
The numbers of monocytes and neutrophils, both cells of the immune system that are signs of inflammation, were lower in MSC-treated mice. Measures of lung destruction, including mean linear intercept, were also lower in the MSC mice.
Not only did MSC reduce inflammation in the mice’s lungs, but their lung structure improved, indicating that MSC could be used to repair damaged lungs.
“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 Professor Rachel Chambers, the director of the ERS’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. 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,” Chambers said.
“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,” said Dr. Declan Doherty of Queens University Belfast, who presented the data at the conference. “The ability to counteract inflammation in the lungs by utilising 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,” Doherty concluded.