A safety consideration of mesenchymal stem cell therapy on COVID-19

Academic Article


  • Due to the multi-potential differentiation and immunomodulatory function, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been widely used in the therapy of chronic and autoimmune diseases. Recently, the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has grown to be a global public health emergency but no effective drug is available to date. Several studies investigated MSCs therapy for COVID-19 patients. However, it remains unclear whether MSCs could be the host cells of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2) and whether they might affect the SARS-CoV-2 entry into other cells. Here, we report that human MSCs barely express ACE2 and TMPRSS2, two receptors required for the virus endocytosis, indicating that MSCs are free from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Furthermore, we observed that MSCs were unable to induce the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in epithelial cells and macrophages. Importantly, under different inflammatory challenge conditions, implanted human MSCs failed to up-regulate the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in the lung tissues of mice. Intriguingly, we showed that a SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus failed to infect MSCs and co-cultured MSCs did not increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus infection in epithelial cells. All these results suggest that human MSCs have no risk of assisting SARS-CoV-2 infection and the use of MSCs as the therapy for COVID-19 patients is feasible and safe.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Stem Cell Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cao Y; Wu H; Zhai W; Wang Y; Li M; Li M; Yang L; Tian Y; Song Y; Li J
  • Volume

  • 49