Transplantation of ACE2- Mesenchymal stem cells improves the outcome of patients with covid-19 pneumonia

Calogero Caruso, Hongjun Li, Ilia Stambler, Huanxing Su, Yingmei Feng, Antonio Cano, Dongshu Du, Qin Han, Hongbo Shi, Zikuan Leng, Junfen Fan, Kunlin Jin, Zhongjie Hu, Lee Wei Lim, Xijing He, Wenjing Wang, Bo Yang, Xiaoxia Li, Rongjia Zhu, Zhengchao GaoKan Yin, Wei Hou, Wei Hou, Hongjian Liu, Yanlei Yang, Luchan Deng, Yibin Wang, Fengchun Zhang, Georgina Ellison-Hughes, Georgina Ellison-Hughes, Zikuan Leng, Yanlei Yang, Guangliang Shan, Antonio Cano, Yingmei Feng, Zhengchao Gao, Sasanka Chakrabarti, Fengchun Zhang, Yangyang Zhao, Dongshu Du, Fanyan Meng, Lee Wei Lim, Jinming Gao, Alexey Moskalev, Hongbo Shi, Wei Hou, Hongjun Li, Kunlin Jin, Xiaoxia Li, Wenjing Wang, Wei Hou, Bo Yang, Zhongjie Hu, Alexey Moskalev, Guangliang Shan, Calogero Caruso, Kyung-Jin Min, Ronghua Jin, Robert Chunhua Zhao, Sasanka Chakrabarti, Xijing He, Shihua Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

427 Citations (Scopus)


A coronavirus (HCoV-19) has caused the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, China. Preventing and reversing the cytokine storm may be the key to save the patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to possess a comprehensive powerful immunomodulatory function. This study aims to investigate whether MSC transplantation improves the outcome of 7 enrolled patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in Beijing YouAn Hospital, China, from Jan 23, 2020 to Feb 16, 2020. The clinical outcomes, as well as changes of inflammatory and immune function levels and adverse effects of 7 enrolled patients were assessed for 14 days after MSC injection. MSCs could cure or significantly improve the functional outcomes of seven patients without observed adverse effects. The pulmonary function and symptoms of these seven patients were significantly improved in 2 days after MSC transplantation. Among them, two common and one severe patient were recovered and discharged in 10 days after treatment. After treatment, the peripheral lymphocytes were increased, the C-reactive protein decreased, and the overactivated cytokine-secreting immune cells CXCR3+CD4+ T cells, CXCR3+CD8+ T cells, and CXCR3+ NK cells disappeared in 3-6 days. In addition, a group of CD14+CD11c+CD11bmid regulatory DC cell population dramatically increased. Meanwhile, the level of TNF-α was significantly decreased, while IL-10 increased in MSC treatment group compared to the placebo control group. Furthermore, the gene expression profile showed MSCs were ACE2- and TMPRSS2- which indicated MSCs are free from COVID-19 infection. Thus, the intravenous transplantation of MSCs was safe and effective for treatment in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, especially for the patients in critically severe condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-228
Number of pages13
JournalAging and Disease
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cell Biology


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