Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) are a promising resource for cell-based therapy because of their high immunomodulation ability, tropism towards inflamed and injured tissues, and their easy access and isolation. Currently, there are more than 1200 registered MSC clinical trials globally. However, a lack of standardized methods to characterize cell safety, efficacy, and biodistribution dramatically hinders the progress of MSC utility in clinical practice. In this review, we summarize the current state of MSC-based cell therapy, focusing on the systemic safety and biodistribution of MSCs. MSC-associated risks of tumor initiation and promotion and the underlying mechanisms of these risks are discussed. In addition, MSC biodistribution methodology and the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cell therapies are addressed. Better understanding of the systemic safety and biodistribution of MSCs will facilitate future clinical applications of precision medicine using stem cells.
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