PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
This article reviews the literature on the therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to prolong corneal allograft survival.
To date, only small numbers studies have investigated the MSC ability to modulate corneal allograft survival. Most reports have shown positive results, which is encouraging, however as different MSC-application strategies (time point of injection, cell number/number of injections, route of injection, MSC source, MSC licensing) have been employed in various animal models it is difficult to compare and validate the results. The MSC ability to promote graft survival has been attributed to their modulation of the recipient immune system, altering the Th1/Th2 balance, expanding Foxp3 regulatory T cells, polarizing macrophages and inhibiting intra-graft infiltration of antigen presenting cells. More in depth analysis is required to elucidate the mechanism of MSC-immunomodulation in vivo.
MSCs have shown the potential to modulate corneal allograft rejection in various models using MSCs from different species. In particular for high-risk patients with poor prognosis MSC therapy might be a promising approach to promote corneal allograft survival. First-in-man clinical trials with MSC will hopefully shed new light on MSC-mediated immunomodulation in vivo and contribute to the restoration of vision in patients receiving corneal allografts.