Ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury is an inevitable consequence of organ transplantation and a major determinant of patient and graft survival in kidney transplantation. Renal I/R injury can lead to fibrosis and graft failure. Although the exact sequence of events in the pathophysiology of I/R injury remains unknown, the role of inflammation has become increasingly clear. In this perspective, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are under extensive investigation as potential therapy for I/R injury, since MSCs are able to exert immune regulatory and reparative effects. Various preclinical studies indicate the beneficial effects of MSCs in ameliorating renal injury and accelerating tissue repair. These versatile cells have been shown to migrate to sites of injury and to enhance repair by paracrine mechanisms instead of by differentiating and replacing the injured cells. The first phase I studies of MSCs in human renal I/R injury and kidney transplantation have been started, and results are awaited soon. In this review, preliminary results and opportunities of MSCs in human renal I/R injury are summarized. We might be heading towards a cell-based paradigm shift in the treatment of renal I/R injury
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