Premise and promise of mesenchymal stem cell-based therapies in clinical vascularized composite allotransplantation

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Purpose of review

Over the past decade, clinical vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) has enabled functional and quality of life restoration in a wide range of indications secondary to devastating tissue loss. However, the spectre of toxicity and long-term complications of chronic immunosuppression has curtailed the momentum of VCA. This study summarizes the literature evidence behind successful mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based cell therapies highlighting their multipronged immunomodulatory, restorative and regenerative characteristics with special emphasis towards VCA applications.

Recent findings

Experimental and clinical studies in solid organs and VCA have confirmed that MSCs facilitate immunosuppression-free allograft survival or tolerance, stimulate peripheral nerve regeneration, attenuate ischaemia-reperfusion injury, and improve tissue healing after surgery. It has been hypothesized that MSC-induced long-term operational tolerance in experimental VCA is mediated by induction of mixed donor-specific chimerism and regulatory T-cell mechanisms. All these characteristics of MSCs could thus help expand the scope and clinical feasibility of VCA.


Cellular therapies, especially those focusing on MSCs, are emerging in solid organ transplantation including VCA. Although some clinical trials have begun to assess the effects of MSCs in solid organ transplantation, much scientific domain remains uncharted, especially for VCA.

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