Stem Cell Reviews and Reports

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 598–620 | Cite as

Stem Cell-Based Therapy in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

  • Marek Barczyk
  • Matthias Schmidt
  • Sabrina MattoliEmail author


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive fibrosing disorder for which there is no cure and no pharmacological treatment capable of increasing in a meaningful way the survival rate. Lung transplantation remains the only possible treatment for patients with advanced disease, although the increase in 5-year survival is only 45 %. Some preclinical studies have generated promising results about the therapeutic potential of exogenous stem cells. However, two initial clinical trials involving the endobronchial or systemic delivery of autologous adipose tissue-derived or unrelated-donor, placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells have not convincingly demonstrated that these treatments are acceptably safe. The results of other ongoing clinical trials may help to identify the best source and delivery route of mesenchymal stem cells and to estimate the risk of unwanted effects related to the mesenchymal nature of the transplanted cells. Considering that most of the therapeutic potential of these cells has been ascribed to paracrine signaling, the use of mesenchymal stem cell-derived secretome as an alternative to the transplantation of single cell suspension may circumvent many regulatory and clinical problems. Technical and safety concerns still limit the possibility of clinical applications of other promising interventions that are based on the use of human amnion stem cells, embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells to replace or regenerate the dysfunctional alveolar epithelium. We summarize the current status of the field and identify major challenges and opportunities for the possible future integration of stem cell-based treatments into the currently recommended clinical management strategy for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.


Embryonic stem cells Exosome Human amnion stem cells Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis Induced pluripotent stem cells Mesenchymal stem cell Secretome Stem cell therapy 


Conflict of Interest

SM is founding shareholder and board member of AVAIL GmbH. The other authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose in addition to their affiliations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marek Barczyk
    • 1
    • 3
  • Matthias Schmidt
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sabrina Mattoli
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Stem Cell Research CenterWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Discovery & Translational Research CenterMunichGermany
  3. 3.Avail Biomedical Research InstituteBaselSwitzerland
  4. 4.Scientific Direction and Project ManagementAvail Biomedical Research InstituteBaselSwitzerland

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