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Potential advantages of acute kidney injury management by mesenchymal stem cells

Mesenchymal stem cells are currently considered as a promising tool for therapeutic application in acute kidney injury (AKI) management. AKI is characterized by acute tubular injury with rapid loss of renal function. After AKI, inflammation, oxidative stress and excessive deposition of extracellular matrix are the molecular events that ultimately cause the end-stage renal disease. Despite numerous improvement of supportive therapy, the mortality and morbidity among patients remain high. Therefore, exploring novel therapeutic options to treat AKI is mandatory. Numerous evidence in animal models has demonstrated the capability of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to restore kidney function after induced kidney injury. After infusion, MSCs engraft in the injured tissue and release soluble factors and microvesicles that promote cell survival and tissue repairing. Indeed, the main mechanism of action of MSCs in tissue regeneration is the paracrine/endocrine secretion of bioactive molecules. MSCs can be isolated from several tissues, including bone marrow, adipose tissue, and blood cord; pre-treatment procedures to improve MSCs homing and their paracrine function have been also described. This review will focus on the application of cell therapy in AKI and it will summarize preclinical studies in animal models and clinical trials currently ongoing about the use of mesenchymal stem cells after AKI.