Research Alert

Despite various treatment protocols and newly recognized therapeutics, there are no effective treatment approaches against coronavirus disease. New therapeutic strategies including the use of stem cells-derived secretome as a cell-free therapy have been recommended for patients with critical illness. The pro-regenerative, pro-angiogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, immunomodulatory, and trophic properties of stem cells-derived secretome, extracellular vesicles (EVs), and bioactive factors have made them suitable candidates for respiratory tract regeneration in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. EVs including microvesicles and exosomes can be applied for communication at the intercellular level due to their abilities in the long-distance transfer of biological messages such as mRNAs, growth factors, transcription factors, microRNAs, and cytokines, and therefore, simulate the specifications of the parent cell, influencing target cells upon internalization and/or binding. EVs exhibit both anti-inflammatory and tolerogenic immune responses by regulation of proliferation, polarization, activation, and migration of different immune cells. Due to effective immunomodulatory and high safety including a minimum risk of immunogenicity and tumorigenicity, mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-EVs are more preferable to MSC-based therapies. Thus, as an endogenous repair and inflammation-reducing agent, MSC-EVs could be used against COVID-19 induced morbidity and mortality after further mechanistic and preclinical/clinical investigations. This review is focused on the therapeutic perspective of the secretome of stem cells in alleviating the cytokine storm and organ injury in COVID-19 patients.


Core Tip: The world has witnessed unbelievable damage due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The rapid propagation of the disease requires emerging therapeutic strategies. The central role of the immune system during COVID-19 highlights the importance of a balanced immune response in order to prohibit overexaggerated responses and further multiorgan dysfunction. Stem cell and stem cell-derived secretome-related therapies have gained increasing momentum in the treatment of a broad range of diseases in the past decade. In particular, the immunomodulatory properties of stem cell-derived biofactors could be a new avenue in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

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