Stem Cell Therapy for COPD: Hope and Exploitation

Marilyn K. Glassberg, Isabelle Csete, Emmanuelle Simonet, Sharon J. Elliot

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


COPD is a chronic inflammatory and destructive disease characterized by progressive decline in lung function that can accelerate with aging. Preclinical studies suggest that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may provide a therapeutic option for this incurable disease because of their antiinflammatory, reparative, and immunomodulatory properties. To date, clinical trials using MSCs demonstrate safety in patients with COPD. However, because of the notable absence of large, multicenter randomized trials, no efficacy or evidence exists to support the possibility that MSCs can restore lung function in patients with COPD. Unfortunately, the investigational status of cell-based interventions for lung diseases has not hindered the propagation of commercial businesses, exploitation of the public, and explosion of medical tourism to promote unproven and potentially harmful cell-based interventions for COPD in the United States and worldwide. Patients with COPD constitute the largest group of patients with lung disease flocking to these unregulated clinics. This review highlights the numerous questions and concerns that remain before the establishment of cell-based interventions as safe and efficacious treatments for patients with COPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1271-1281
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • COPD
  • emphysema
  • mesenchymal stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Stem Cell Therapy for COPD: Hope and Exploitation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this