The immune modulatory effects of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells in severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

Published on Jun 2, 2021in Stem Cell Research & Therapy5.116
· DOI :10.1186/S13287-021-02376-9
Rachele Ciccocioppo30
Estimated H-index: 30
(University of Verona),
Davide Gibellini40
Estimated H-index: 40
(University of Verona)
+ 19 AuthorsVincenzo Bronte82
Estimated H-index: 82
(University of Verona)
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may result in a life-threatening condition due to a hyperactive immune reaction to severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 infection, for which no effective treatment is available. Based on the potent immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), a growing number of trials are ongoing. This prompted us to carry out a thorough immunological study in a patient treated with umbilical cord-derived MSCs and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for COVID-19-related pneumonia. The exploratory analyses were assessed on both peripheral blood and bronchoalveolar fluid lavage samples at baseline and after cellular infusion by means of single-cell RNA sequencing, flow cytometry, ELISA, and functional assays. Remarkably, a normalization of circulating T lymphocytes count paralleled by a reduction of inflammatory myeloid cells, and a decrease in serum levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, mostly of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α, were observed. In addition, a drop of plasma levels of those chemokines essential for neutrophil recruitment became evident that paralleled the decrease of lung-infiltrating inflammatory neutrophils. Finally, circulating monocytes and low-density gradient neutrophils acquired immunosuppressive function. This scenario was accompanied by an amelioration of respiratory, renal, inflammatory, and pro-thrombotic indexes. Our results provide the first immunological data possibly related to the use of umbilical cord-derived MSCs in severe COVID-19 context.
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