Mesenchymal stem cell-based therapies in regenerative medicine: applications in rheumatology
Growing knowledge on the biology of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has provided new insights into their potential clinical applications, particularly for rheumatologic disorders. Historically, their potential to differentiate into cells of the bone and cartilage lineages has led to a variety of experimental strategies to investigate whether MSCs can be used for tissue engineering approaches. Beyond this potential, MSCs also display immunosuppressive properties, which have prompted research on their capacity to suppress local inflammation and tissue damage in a variety of inflammatory autoimmune diseases and, in particular, in rheumatoid arthritis. Currently, an emerging field of research comes from the possibility that these cells, through their trophic/regenerative potential, may also influence the course of chronic degenerative disorders and prevent cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis. This review focuses on these advances, specifically on the biological properties of MSCs, including their immunoregulatory characteristics, differentiation capacity and trophic potential, as well as the relevance of MSC-based therapies for rheumatic diseases.