New approach for the treatment of autoimmune diseases
Keywords:autoimmune diseases, stem cells, adipose tissue-derived stem cells, ASCs, stem cell treatment, autologous stem cell
Autoimmune diseases are due to a dysregulation of the immune system’s balance, which attacks healthy cells in the body, leading to tissue damage. They can affect different organs/tissues, and the skin represents one of the most affected. Among the skin-related autoimmune diseases, Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE) and Morphea are included. Both conditions present various cutaneous manifestations and may also show systemic involvement. It is noted that they can be challenging to treat, often recalcitrant to currently available therapies, thus causing significant distress to affected patients. The approach of personalised medicine, based on regenerative therapies, has been growing in recent years. The use of autologous adult stem cells has successfully treated autoimmune diseases. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the treatment based on patient-specific adipose-tissue stem cells (ASCs) in our two distinct cohorts of patients affected by CLE (n=20) and Morphea (n=12). Patients presenting only with skin lesions underwent local ASCs therapy by intradermal injection in the affected areas. At the same time, patients who also had extra-cutaneous involvement (complicated cases) received a combined therapy consisting of both intradermal and intravenous injections of ASCs. Overall, after 1 month of treatment, an improvement has been observed in 78% and 73% of subjects treated with intradermal injections and combined therapy, respectively. Notably, a better response to ASCs-based therapy has been reported in CLE patients, reaching an 86% in complicated cases. Our study promotes the application of autologous ASCs as an effective therapeutic strategy in skin-related autoimmune diseases.