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Expert Rev Respir Med. 2010 Dec;4(6):747-58. doi: 10.1586/ers.10.72.

Mesenchymal stem cells for repair of the airway epithelium in asthma.

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  • 1Providence Heart and Lung Institute at St Paul's Hospital, University of British Columbia, 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6, Canada.


The airway epithelium is constantly faced with inflammatory and potentially injurious stimuli. Following damage, rapid repair mechanisms involving proliferation and differentiation of resident progenitor and stem cell pools are necessary in order to maintain a protective barrier. In asthma, evidence pointing to a compromised ability of the epithelium to properly repair and regenerate is rapidly accumulating. The consequences of this are presently unknown but are likely to have a significant impact on lung function. Mesenchymal stem cells have the potential to serve as a universal source for replacement of specific cells in several diseases and thus offer hope as a potential therapeutic intervention for the treatment of the chronic remodeling changes that occur in the asthmatic epithelium. However, controversy exists regarding whether these cells can actually home to and engraft within the airways and contribute to tissue function or whether this mechanism is necessary, since they can have potent paracrine immunomodulatory effects. This article focuses on the current knowledge about specific stem cell populations that may contribute to airway epithelial regeneration and discusses the use of mesenchymal stem cells as a potential therapeutic intervention.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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