Efficacy and Safety of MSC Cell Therapies for Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Wenchun Qu, Zhen Wang, Erica Engelberg-Cook, Dan Yan, Abu Bakar Siddik, Guojun Bu, Julie G. Allickson, Eva Kubrova, Arnold I. Caplan, Joshua M. Hare, Camillo Ricordi, Carl J. Pepine, Joanne Kurtzberg, Jorge M. Pascual, Jorge M. Mallea, Ricardo L. Rodriguez, Tarek Nayfeh, Samer Saadi, Ravindra V. Durvasula, Elaine M. RichardsKeith March, Fred P. Sanfilippo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MSC (a.k.a. mesenchymal stem cell or medicinal signaling cell) cell therapies show promise in decreasing mortality in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and suggest benefits in treatment of COVID-19-related ARDS. We performed a meta-Analysis of published trials assessing the efficacy and adverse events (AE) rates of MSC cell therapy in individuals hospitalized for COVID-19. Systematic searches were performed in multiple databases through November 3, 2021. Reports in all languages, including randomized clinical trials (RCTs), non-randomized interventional trials, and uncontrolled trials, were included. Random effects model was used to pool outcomes from RCTs and non-randomized interventional trials. Outcome measures included all-cause mortality, serious adverse events (SAEs), AEs, pulmonary function, laboratory, and imaging findings. A total of 736 patients were identified from 34 studies, which included 5 RCTs (n = 235), 7 non-randomized interventional trials (n = 370), and 22 uncontrolled comparative trials (n = 131). Patients aged on average 59.4 years and 32.2% were women. When compared with the control group, MSC cell therapy was associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality (RR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.35-0.85, IâŠâŠ2 = 0.0%), reduction in SAEs (IRR = 0.36, 95% CI: 0.14-0.90, IâŠâŠ2 = 0.0%) and no significant difference in AE rate. A sub-group with pulmonary function studies suggested improvement in patients receiving MSC. These findings support the potential for MSC cell therapy to decrease all-cause mortality, reduce SAEs, and improve pulmonary function compared with conventional care. Large-scale double-blinded, well-powered RCTs should be conducted to further explore these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-703
Number of pages16
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • MSC
  • cytokine storm
  • hospital recovery
  • pulmonary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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