Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that causes widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the body. The seriousness of SLE can range from mild to life-threatening and affect the joints and skin as well as vital organs such as the blood vessels, lungs, heart, and kidneys. SLE can cause serious damage to the lining of the chest cavity (pleurisy), inflammation around the heart (pericarditis) as well as serious kidney damage. In fact, roughly a third of people with SLE develop kidney disease (nephritis) and many progress to kidney failure which is one of the leading causes of death among those with SLE.
The symptoms of SLE are diverse and include fatigue, skin rashes, pain and swelling in the joints and others associated with organ and tissue damage. A distinctive sign of lupus is a facial rash across the cheeks and nose, often called the “butterfly rash”. These symptoms often wax and wane over weeks, months and even years in what people often call “flares.”
Currently, standard of care for SLE primarily involve medication to suppress the immune system such as corticosteroids and hydroxychloroquine. Biological drugs such as belimumab are also being used. Despite these options many patients do not improve and or cannot tolerate treatment.
Numerous research studies have demonstrated that stem cell therapy is safe and effective in SLE. Stem cell therapy has been shown to reduce disease activity, improve kidney function and have long term effects.
Based on early human clinical trials there appears to be a strong argument for the safe and effective use of stem cell therapy in the treatment of SLE. While we wait for phase II/III trials the current data is encouraging and supports use of stem cell therapy in the clinical setting.
Proven Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy in Lupus/SLE
- IV MSC therapy improved the systemic lupus erythematosus disease activity index (SLEDAI) score (Zhou et al, Wang et al, Wen et al)
- IV MSC therapy improved kidney function and level of proteinuria (Zhou et al, Wang et al)
- MSC therapy is safe in patients with SLE (Zhou et al, Wang et al, Ru et al, Deng et al)
- Long term reduction in disease activity (SLEDAI) 3 and 5 years after MSC therapy (Wang et al, Ru et al)
Conclusions From Selected Studies
- “MSCs might be a promising therapeutic agent for patients with SLE.” (Zhou, T et al 2020)
- “this long-term follow-up study provides evidence that allogeneic MSCT had at least comparable if not better clinical efficacy than HSCT, but with fewer adverse events and significantly lower cost in treating drug-refractory active SLE patients.” (Wang, D et al 2018)
- “allogeneic BM-/UC-MSCs may be efficacious in treating patients with active disease who are refractory to standard treatments, with our results projecting potential rates of LDA around 58% and CR around 23% in the year following transplantation.” (Wen, L et al 2019)
- “hUC-MSC has no apparent additional effect over and above standard immunosuppression.” (Deng, D 2017)
- “UC-MSC can regulate the expression of cytokines of participate in the immune response in the patients with SLE.Treatment of SLE by UC-MSC can elevate serum albumin and C3 and C4 level,reduce the 24 hours urinary protein quantity,relife kidney damage,improve clinical symptoms” (Ru B et al 2017)
Brought to you by:
Ahvie Herskowitz, MD, President of ACAM
Director of Anatara Medicine
Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC San Francisco (2014)
(Read Dr. Herskowitz’s Bio Here)
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