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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 859817, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/859817
Review Article

Hematopoietic and Mesenchymal Stem Cells for the Treatment of Chronic Respiratory Diseases: Role of Plasticity and Heterogeneity

1Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Viale L. Pinto 1, 71122 Foggia, Italy
2Medical Genetics Laboratory, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Via Commenda 12, 20122 Milan, Italy

Received 29 August 2013; Accepted 20 October 2013; Published 19 January 2014

Academic Editors: N. C. Gorin, T. Liu, C. Porada, and V. J. Thannickal

Copyright © 2014 Massimo Conese et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Chronic lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis (CF), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are incurable and represent a very high social burden. Stem cell-based treatment may represent a hope for the cure of these diseases. In this paper, we revise the overall knowledge about the plasticity and engraftment of exogenous marrow-derived stem cells into the lung, as well as their usefulness in lung repair and therapy of chronic lung diseases. The lung is easily accessible and the pathophysiology of these diseases is characterized by injury, inflammation, and eventually by remodeling of the airways. Bone marrow-derived stem cells, including hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) and mesenchymal stromal (stem) cells (MSCs), encompass a wide array of cell subsets with different capacities of engraftment and injured tissue regenerating potential. Proof-of-principle that marrow cells administered locally may engraft and give rise to specialized epithelial cells has been given, but the efficiency of this conversion is too limited to give a therapeutic effect. Besides the identification of plasticity mechanisms, the characterization/isolation of the stem cell subpopulations represents a major challenge to improving the efficacy of transplantation protocols used in regenerative medicine for lung diseases.