A new study published in STEM CELLS, conducted by researchers at the University of Amsterdam, shows how mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can restore the health and improve the function of the immune system, which could benefit the treatment of sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening complication from an infection that can lead to multiple organ failure. It is a major cause of illness and death worldwide and despite the use of antibiotics it kills about one in every four patients who contract it.
Since early studies done on animals have shown that treating sepsis with MSCs can reduce the mortality rate by as much as 73 percent, a group of researchers from University of Amsterdam sought to answer this question: could humans realize the same benefits?
So, the team conducted an experiment by taking a group of healthy volunteers and inducing endotoxemia in them, where bacterial toxins can build up and cause fever, nausea and vomiting but do not cause long-term harm to the participants (?). The idea was that by inducing endotoxemia, which exhibits some of the key characteristics of sepsis, that they could model the condition in people.
One hour prior to the initial dose, each person was given an infusion of either adipose (fat) mesenchymal stem cells (ACSs) taken from a donor, or a placebo as a control. Those receiving the ASCs were divided into three groups, with each group receiving a consecutively higher dose of cells.
In a news release, Desiree Perlee, senior author of the study, said the study provided some valuable insights and information:
“The results showed that the ASCs were well tolerated…We realize that there is a limitation with the endotoxemia model. Although in a qualitative way it resembles responses seen in patients with sepsis, it differs in that sepsis-associated alterations are more severe and sustained, while in the endotoxemia model responses occur in a very rapid, short-lived and transient way. But despite these limitations, some of our findings confirm the earlier studies on animals. We believe they show further testing of ASCs in actual sepsis patients is warranted.”
Dr. Jan Nolta, Editor-in-Chief of STEM CELLS (and a CIRM-grantee), said, “This novel clinical trial provides important insight into the mechanism of action of MSCs in inflammation and provides human safety data in support of treatment of sepsis using MSCs.