Updates on clinical trials evaluating the regenerative potential of allogenic mesenchymal stem cells in COVID-19. Academic Article uri icon


  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected nearly 118 million people and caused ~2.6 million deaths worldwide by early 2021, during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Although the majority of infected patients show mild-to-moderate symptoms, a small fraction of patients develops severe symptoms. Uncontrolled cytokine production and the lack of substantive adaptive immune response result in hypoxia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or multiple organ failure in severe COVID-19 patients. Since the current standard of care treatment is insufficient to alleviate severe COVID-19 symptoms, many clinics have been prompted to perform clinical trials involving the infusion of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) due to their immunomodulatory and therapeutic properties. Several phases I/II clinical trials involving the infusion of allogenic MSCs have been performed last year. The focus of this review is to critically evaluate the safety and efficacy outcomes of the most recent, placebo-controlled phase I/II clinical studies that enrolled a larger number of patients, in order to provide a statistically relevant and comprehensive understanding of MSC's therapeutic potential in severe COVID-19 patients. Clinical outcomes obtained from these studies clearly indicate that: (i) allogenic MSC infusion in COVID-19 patients with ARDS is safe and effective enough to decreases a set of inflammatory cytokines that may drive COVID-19 associated cytokine storm, and (ii) MSC infusion efficiently improves COVID-19 patient survival and reduces recovery time. These findings strongly support further investigation into MSC-infusion in larger clinical trials for COVID-19 patients with ARDS, who currently have a nearly 50% of mortality rate.

published proceedings

  • NPJ Regen Med

altmetric score

  • 3.95

author list (cited authors)

  • Sharma, D., & Zhao, F.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Sharma, Dhavan||Zhao, Feng

publication date

  • January 2021