The therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cells in lung cancer: benefits, risks and challenges

Lourdes Cortes-Dericks, Domenico Galetta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Lung cancer is one of the most challenging diseases to treat. In the past decades standard therapy including surgery, chemo- and radiation therapy, alone or in combination has not changed the high mortality rate and poor prognosis. In recent years, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have emerged as putative therapeutic tools due to their intrinsic tumor tropism, anti-tumor and immunoregulatory properties. MSCs release biomolecules that are thought to exert the same beneficial effects as their cellular counterparts and, as such, they may offer practical possibilities of using MSC-secreted products. Owing to their innate affinity to home to tumor sites, MSCs have also gained interest as selective vehicles for the delivery of anti-cancer agents. However, MSCs are also known to confer pro-oncogenic effects, rendering them into double-sword weapons against neoplastic diseases. Conclusions: Here, we present published data on the cell- and secretome-based therapeutic competences of MSCs, as well as on their potential as engineered delivery vectors for the treatment of lung cancer. Despite the controversial role of MSCs in the context of lung cancer therapy, current findings support hopeful perspectives to harness the potential of MSC-based regimens that may augment current treatment modalities in lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-738
Number of pages12
JournalCellular Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Anti−/pro-tumorigenic effect
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung cancer therapy
  • Mesenchymal stem cell secretome
  • Mesenchymal stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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