Exploring Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Exploring Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic disease that significantly impacts the quality of life, causing damage to joints, connective tissues, muscles, tendons, and fibrous tissue. Historically, over 50% of RA patients faced disability, inability to work full-time, and elevated mortality risks.

A Modern Alternative: Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy

Considering the limitations of traditional RA treatments, researchers have explored innovative approaches like cellular therapy using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a promising alternative strategy. Recent studies highlight the potential benefits of this approach in improving RA patients’ lives.

Positive Outcomes with UC-MSCs

In a groundbreaking study, Wang et al. (2010) administered intravenous UC-MSCs (1 × 107 cells per kg of body weight) to 17 RA patients. The results were remarkable: patients experienced significant enhancements in diet, sleep, physical strength, and fatigue after the infusion. Moreover, liver and kidney function tests demonstrated no significant changes, and disease activity decreased.

Promising Results from Randomized Trials

A randomized controlled trial involving 172 active RA patients, as reported by Wang et al. (2013), introduced the intravenous infusion of UC-MSCs (4 × 107 cells). Over intervals of 3, 6, and 8 months, the experimental group underwent UC-MSC infusion twice. The outcomes indicated higher improvement rates in the experimental group compared to the control group.

Sustaining the Benefits

While initial benefits to RA patients who received MSCs seemed to diminish after 3 months, subsequent observations emphasized the need for a second transplant to sustain the improvements.

Conclusion: A Promising Option for RA Therapy

To conclude, the evidence strongly suggests that MSC-based therapy can offer safe and effective treatment for RA. It significantly alleviates clinical symptoms and hinders disease progression. Additionally, the prospect of a second transplantation holds the potential to amplify the benefits of the initial treatment. This innovative approach marks a promising stride towards advancing the clinical therapy landscape for RA patients.

  1. Lopez-Santalla M., Bueren J.A. and Garin M.I. (2021). Mesenchymal stem/stromal cell-based therapy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: An update on preclinical studies. EBioMedicine. 69: 103427. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103427.
  2. Sarsenova M., Issabekova A., Abisheva S., Rutskaya-Moroshan K., Ogay V. and Saparov A. (2021). Mesenchymal stem cell-based therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. Int J Mol Sci. 22(21):11592. doi: 10.3390/ijms222111592.
  3. Wang L., Cong X., Liu G., Zhou J. and Bai B. (2013). Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell therapy for patients with active rheumatoid arthritis: safety and efficacy. Stem Cells Dev. 22: 3192-3202.
  4. Wang L.M., Zhou J.J., Bai W., Bai B., Li M. and Wang H.Y. (2010). Observation on the clinical efficacy of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of 17 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Chin J Immunol. 26 :659-662.
  5. Wang Y., Ma D., Wu Z., Yang B., Li R., Zhao X., Yang H. and Zhang L. (2021). Clinical application of mesenchymal stem cells in rheumatic diseases. Stem Cell Research and Therapy. 12: 567. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-021-02635-9.

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