Concise Review: Cellular Therapies: The Potential to Regenerate and Restore Tolerance in Immune-Mediated Intestinal Diseases

Rachele Ciccocioppo, Giuseppina Cristina Cangemi, Peter Kruzliak, Gino Roberto Corazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic inflammatory enteropathies, including celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, are lifelong disabling conditions whose cure is still an unmet need, despite the great strides made in understanding their complex pathogenesis. The advent of cellular therapies, mainly based on the use of stem cells, represents a great step forward thanks to their multitarget strategy. Both hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC) have been employed in the treatment of refractory cases with promising results. The lack of immunogenicity makes MSC more suitable for therapeutic purposes as their infusion may be performed across histocompatibility locus antigen barriers without risk of rejection. The best outcome has been obtained when treating fistulizing Crohn's disease with local injections of MSC. In addition, both HSC and MSC proved successful in promoting regeneration of intestinal mucosa, and favoring the expansion of a T-cell regulatory subset. By virtue of the ability to favor mucosal homeostasis, this last cell population has been exploited in clinical trials, with inconsistent results. Finally, the recent identification of the epithelial stem cell marker has opened up the possibility of tissue engineering, with an array of potential applications for intestinal diseases. However, the underlying mechanisms of action of these interconnected therapeutic strategies are still poorly understood. It is conceivable that over the next few years their role will become clearer as the biological interactions with injured tissues and the hierarchy by which they deliver their action are unraveled through a continuous moving from bench to bedside and vice versa. Stem Cells 2016

Original languageEnglish
JournalStem Cells
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Chronic inflammatory enteropathies
  • Immune tolerance
  • Mucosal regeneration
  • Stem cells
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Medicine


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