The Bystander Effect: Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Mediated Lung Repair

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Mesenchymal stem or stromal cells (MSCs), a heterogeneous subset of adult stem/progenitor cells, have surfaced as potential therapeutic units with significant clinical benefit for a wide spectrum of disease conditions, including those affecting the lung. Although MSCs carry both self-renewal and multilineage differentiation abilities, current dogma holds that MSCs mainly contribute to tissue regeneration and repair by modulating the host tissue via secreted cues. Thus, the therapeutic benefit of MSCs is thought to derive from so called bystander effects. The regenerative mechanisms employed by MSCs in the lung include modulation of the immune system as well as promotion of epithelial and endothelial repair. Apart from secreted factors, a number of recent findings suggest that MSCs engage in mitochondrial transfer and shedding of membrane vesicles as a means to enhance tissue repair following injury. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear that MSCs are an integral component of epithelial lung stem cell niches. As such, MSCs play an important role in coupling information from the environment to stem and progenitor populations, such that homeostasis can be ensured even in the face of injury. It is the aim of this review to outline the major mechanisms by which MSCs contribute to lung regeneration, synthesizing recent preclinical findings with data from clinical trials and potential for future therapy


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Respiratory Medicine and Allergy
  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Lung, Mesenchymal stem cell, Paracrine communication, Regenerative medicine, Stem cell niche, Immunomodulation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1437-1444
JournalStem Cells
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 17
Publication categoryResearch