Autologous adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (aMSCs) from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) showed similar properties to those of healthy controls, according to results of a new study published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy.

“Autologous aMSC from IPF patients retain all tested potential mechanisms of action of therapeutic MSC [mesenchymal stem cell] as therapeutic cells as well as baseline identification of immune biomarkers for IPF,” the authors said.

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They characterized aMSCs from 5 patients with IPF and 5 age- and gender-matched healthy controls and found no differences in their stem cell properties, self-renewal capacity, osteogenic differentiation, secretome content, cell cycle inhibitor marker levels, and mitochondrial health.

In addition, the authors analyzed unmanipulated whole blood samples from 15 patients with IPF and 87 healthy controls to uncover IPF-associated changes in the immune system. They found that patients with IPF had altered peripheral blood immunophenotypes, showing lower B cells subsets and higher T cell subsets than healthy controls.

Moreover, they identified inverse correlations between neutrophil and cluster of differentiation 4+ cluster of differentiation 25+ regulatory T cells counts in patients with IPF and the 3 pulmonary indices measured, ie, forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume during the first second, and maximal vital capacity.

These results supported the potential role of the altered immune system of patients with IPF as a source of biomarkers for disease burden and therapeutic response monitoring.

Can MSC-Based Therapy Be Used to Treat IPF?

Subcutaneous adipose tissues MSCs offer several advantages. They can be easily accessed using minimally invasive procedures and they have therapeutic potential in multiple clinical applications. Currently, MSC-based therapies for IPF use allogeneic cells.


Atanasova E, Milosevic D, Bornschlegl S, et al. Normal ex vivo mesenchymal stem cell function combined with abnormal immune profiles sets the stage for informative cell therapy trials in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2022;13(1):45. doi:10.1186/s13287-021-02692-0