Adult stem cells are considered as appealing therapeutic candidates for inflammatory and degenerative musculoskeletal diseases. A large body of preclinical research has contributed to describing their immune-modulating properties and regenerative potential. Additionally, increasing evidence suggests that stem cell differentiation and function are disrupted in the pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases. Clinical studies have been limited, for the most part, to the application of adult stem cell-based treatments on small numbers of patients or as a 'salvage' therapy in life-threatening disease cases. Nevertheless, these preliminary studies indicate that adult stem cells are promising tools for the long-term treatment of rheumatic diseases. This review highlights recent knowledge acquired in the fields of hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cell therapy for the management of systemic sclerosis (SSc), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) and the potential mechanisms mediating their function.
The authors thank all members of the Arthritis & Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen.
The authors are grateful for support to their research from Arthritis Research UK (grants 19667, 19429, 20050, 20865, 20775) and the Medical Research Council (grant MR/L020211/1).
- stem cells
- rheumatic diseases
- immune modulation
- cartilage repair
- cell therapy
- regenerative medicine