Share this article on:

Safety and immunological responses to human mesenchymal stem cell therapy in difficult-to-treat HIV-1-infected patients

Zhang, Zhenga,*; Fu, Junlianga,*; Xu, Xiangshenga; Wang, Siyua; Xu, Ruonana; Zhao, Minb; Nie, Weiminb; Wang, Xichengc; Zhang, Jiyuana; Li, Taishengd; Su, Lishane; Wang, Fu-Shenga

doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e32835fab77
Clinical Science

Objective: HAART largely decreases morbidity and mortality in chronic HIV-1-infected patients, but immune nonresponders (INRs) with full viral suppression still fail to reverse the immune deficiency. This study evaluated the safety and immunological responses of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy in HIV-1-infected INRs.

Design and Methods: A total of 13 HIV-1-infected INRs were enrolled in this pilot prospectively open-labeled controlled clinical trial. Seven patients were administered three umbilical cord-MSC transfusions at 1-month interval during 12-months of follow-up, whereas six control patients were treated with saline in parallel. Immunological parameters were monitored in these patients throughout the trial.

Results: All patients tolerated the umbilical cord-MSC transfusions well throughout the trial. The umbilical cord-MSC transfusions preferentially increased circulating naive and central memory CD4 T-cell counts and restored HIV-1-specific IFN-γ and IL-2 production in the INRs. These enhancements in immune reconstitution were also associated with the reduction of systemic immune activation and inflammation in vivo.

Conclusions: umbilical cord-MSC transfusions are well tolerated and can efficiently improve host immune reconstitution in INRs, suggesting that such treatments may be used as a novel immunotherapeutic approach to reversing immune deficiency in HIV-1-infected INRs ( identifier: NCT01213186).

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text

aResearch Center for Biological Therapy

bDepartment of Infectious Diseases, Beijing

cYunnan Provincial Hospital of Infectious Diseases/Yun Nan AIDS Care Center, Kunming

dDepartment of Infectious Diseases, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Beijing, China

eThe Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

*Zheng Zhanga and Junliang Fua authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to Fu-Sheng Wang, PhD, MD, Research Center for Biological Therapy, 302 Hospital, Beijing 100039, China. Tel: +86 10 6387 9735; fax: +86 10 6387 9735; e-mail:

Received 9 October, 2012

Revised 2 January, 2013

Accepted 31 January, 2013

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Website (

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.