Previous studies reported on the safety and applicability of mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) to ameliorate pulmonary inflammation in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Thus, multiple clinical trials assessing the potential of MSCs for COVID-19 treatment are underway. Yet, as SARS-inducing coronaviruses infect stem/progenitor cells, it is unclear whether MSCs could be infected by SARS-CoV-2 upon transplantation to COVID-19 patients.
It was found that MSCs from bone marrow, amniotic fluid, and adipose tissue carry angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and transmembrane protease serine subtype 2 at low levels on the cell surface under steady-state and inflammatory conditions. We did not observe SARS-CoV-2 infection or replication in MSCs at steady state under inflammatory conditions, or in direct contact with SARS-CoV-2-infected Caco-2 cells.
Further, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 production in MSCs was not impaired in the presence of SARS-CoV-2.
It was shown that MSCs are resistant to SARS-CoV-2 infection and retain their immunomodulation potential, supporting their potential applicability for COVID-19 treatment.