Masterson CH, Ceccato A, Artigas A, Dos Santos C, Rocco PR, Rolandsson Enes S, Weiss DJ, McAuley D, Matthay MA, English K, Curley GF, Laffey JG
Intensive Care Med Exp 9 (1) 61 [2021-12-31; online 2021-12-31]
Severe viral pneumonia is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality globally, whether due to outbreaks of endemic viruses, periodic viral epidemics, or the rarer but devastating global viral pandemics. While limited anti-viral therapies exist, there is a paucity of direct therapies to directly attenuate viral pneumonia-induced lung injury, and management therefore remains largely supportive. Mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) are receiving considerable attention as a cytotherapeutic for viral pneumonia. Several properties of MSCs position them as a promising therapeutic strategy for viral pneumonia-induced lung injury as demonstrated in pre-clinical studies in relevant models. More recently, early phase clinical studies have demonstrated a reassuring safety profile of these cells. These investigations have taken on an added importance and urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, with multiple trials in progress across the globe. In parallel with clinical translation, strategies are being investigated to enhance the therapeutic potential of these cells in vivo, with different MSC tissue sources, specific cellular products including cell-free options, and strategies to 'licence' or 'pre-activate' these cells, all being explored. This review will assess the therapeutic potential of MSC-based therapies for severe viral pneumonia. It will describe the aetiology and epidemiology of severe viral pneumonia, describe current therapeutic approaches, and examine the data suggesting therapeutic potential of MSCs for severe viral pneumonia in pre-clinical and clinical studies. The challenges and opportunities for MSC-based therapies will then be considered.