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Mesenchymal stromal cells in kidney transplantation

Casiraghi, Federica; Remuzzi, Giuseppe

Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension: January 2019 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 40–46
doi: 10.1097/MNH.0000000000000461

Purpose of review Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have emerged as one of the most promising candidates for immunomodulatory cell therapy in kidney transplantation. Here we describe novel insights into the MSC mechanism of action and provide an overview of initial safety and feasibility studies with MSC in kidney transplantation.

Recent findings Clinical studies of MSC-based cell therapy in kidney transplant recipients demonstrated the safety and feasibility of cell therapy and provide the first encouraging evidence of the efficacy of MSC in enabling the minimization of immunosuppressive drugs. In our initial experience with MSC-based therapy in kidney transplant recipients we carried out extensive clinical and immunological monitoring of MSC-treated patients and found possible biomarkers of MSC immunomodulation in some of them. Based on these biomarkers we identified a patient in whom complete discontinuation of immunosuppression has been achieved safely and successfully.

Summary Many issues should be addressed before MSC-based therapy becomes a standard treatment protocol for kidney transplantation. A better understanding of the MSC mechanism of action and the identification of biomarkers of response to therapy will inform the rational design of the most effective clinical protocol and the selection of patients amenable to safe immunosuppressive drug withdrawal.

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Bergamo, Italy

Correspondence to Giuseppe Remuzzi, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Centro Anna Maria Astori, Kilometro Rosso Science and Technology Park, Via Stezzano, 87, 24126 Bergamo, Italy. Tel: +39 035 4213401; fax: +39 035 319331; e-mail:

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