The application of mesenchymal stem cells to treat thermal and radiation burns
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been developed for a number of indications due to their regenerative and anti-inflammatory phenotypes and their utility is enhanced by the fact that allogeneic transplant is feasible with this cell type. Animal studies and early human cases indicate that this has the potential to be an exciting new therapy for treating chronic non-healing wounds such as diabetic ulcers, burns and cutaneous radiation burns. This review will focus on the use of MSCs to treat thermal and radiation burns. Large, severe burns are difficult to treat and pose a major public health burden worldwide. They are characterized by an extensive loss of the outer protective barrier, delayed wound healing, increased oxidative stress and a heightened inflammatory state. The breakdown of the protective barrier results in increased susceptibility to fluid loss and bacterial sepsis. In the case of radiation burns, chronic inflammation can result in subsequent waves of tissue injury leading to skin breakdown and necrosis. The aim of this review is to summarize the current knowledge on MSCs in treating thermal and radiation burns along with the specific scope of characterizing the biologic function of MSCs that help enhance wound healing in these chronic injuries.