Marjolijn et al. Gut 59:1662
Mesenchymal stem cells are known to be suppressive to immune cells such as T cells, dendritic cells, and natural killer cells. Studies have demonstrated that patients suffering from the immune disease graft versus host enter remission after administration of donor or third party mesenchymal stem cells. One of the manifestations of graft versus host disease is inflammation of the colon, resembling autoimmune colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Some of the previous studies investigating this condition have demonstrated therapeutic effects of mesenchymal stem cells on colonic inflammation. Given this rationale, a recent paper examined the effects of autologous mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of Crohn’s disease refractory to steroids, immune suppressants, and biologics.
50-100 ml of bone marrow cells were isolated from family members or third-party donors and expanded in vitro. Cells where grown to administer two doses, a week a part, of 1-2 x 10(6) cells per kg body weight. Patients were treated by intravenous administration and followed up for 6 months.
MSC infusion was without side effects, besides a mild allergic reaction probably due to the cryopreservant DMSO in one patient. Baseline median CDAI was 326 (224-378). Three patients showed clinical response (CDAI decrease ≥70 from baseline) 6 weeks post-treatment. Additionally, 3 other patient required surgery, presumably as a result of disease progression.
These data demonstrate that intravenous administration of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells appears to be safe for treatment of Crohn’s disease, however larger studies are necessary to determine whether statistically significant efficacy exists.