Mesenchymal Stem Cells Safety and Effect in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Mesenchymal Stem Cells Safety and Effect in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Thousands of people suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. The two most common types include Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis.

In 2016, a clinical study evaluating 70 patients with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis was published. The study participants were randomly assigned to two groups. Thirty-eight patients received umbilical cord stem cell therapy while 32 patients received normal saline. Patients in each group continued their baseline therapy.

At the two-year follow-up, there were no adverse reactions reported in those who received stem cell therapy.

The study found improvement in the degree of inflammation in the colon, patient symptoms,  and inflammatory lab markers.

The authors concluded, “MSC infusion might be a useful and safe therapy for treating UC.”

Hu J, Zhao G, Zhang L, et al. Safety and therapeutic effect of mesenchymal stem cell infusion on moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. 2016;12(5):2983-2989. doi:10.3892/etm.2016.3724.

Additionally, a 2018 meta-analysis which evaluates the findings from multiple studies concluded, “Although there have been only 3 trials conducted with control arms, existing data demonstrate improved efficacy and no increase in adverse or serious adverse events with mesenchymal stem cells as compared with control subjects for the treatment of perianal Crohn’s disease.”

Lightner AL, Wang Z, Zubair AC, Dozois EJ. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Injections for the Treatment of Perianal Crohn’s Disease: Progress Made and Future Directions. Dis Colon Rectum. 2018 May;61(5):629-640.

Last, a study published in 2018, evaluated umbilical cord stem cell therapy (UC-MSCs) in patients with Crohn’s disease (CD). In this study the investigators enrolled 82 patients randomly assigned to a control group or treatment group. The patients had moderate-severe, steroid-controlled CD. The investigators evaluated the change in patient conditions, corticosteroid dose, and any treatment-related adverse effects.

mesenchymal stem cells
Mesenchymal Stem Cells

First, patients underwent a colonoscopy to evaluate disease activity. Next, the patients underwent stem cell infusion once a week for four weeks. Last, patients had another colonoscopy 12 months post-infusion.

Findings of the study included:

  •  steroid dosage significantly decreased
  • patients’ conditions were also improved significantly
  • most of the patients still used steroid at 12 months
  • six patients with anal fistula showed remarkable improvement; seven did not show improvement
  • infusion of UC-MSCs was convenient and safe

The authors concluded, “UC-MSC therapy can significantly and safely improve disease condition in patients with CD receiving a stable steroid dose. The long-term effect of UC-MSC therapy remains to be investigated.”

Colonoscopy showed remarkable mucosal recovery at 12 months compared with baseline findings. (A, B) Panels depict images for patient 14 and (C, D) depict images for patient 23.

Zhang J, Lv S, Liu X, Song B, Shi L. Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cell Treatment for Crohn’s Disease: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Gut and Liver. 2018;12(1):73-78. doi:10.5009/gnl17035.