University of Tasmania
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Combined meta-analysis of preclinical cell therapy studies shows overlapping effect modifiers for multiple diseases

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 02:46 authored by Zwetsloot, PP, Antonic-Baker, A, Gremmels, H, Wever, K, Sena, C, Jansen of Lorkeers, S, Chamuleau, S, Sluijter, J, David Howells

Introduction: Cell therapy has been studied in many different research domains. Cellular replacement of damaged solid tissues is at an early stage of development, with much still to be understood. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are widely used to aggregate data and find important patterns of results within research domains.

We set out to find common biological denominators affecting efficacy in preclinical cell therapy studies for renal, neurological and cardiac disease.

Methods: We used datasets of five previously published meta-analyses investigating cell therapy in preclinical models of chronic kidney disease, spinal cord injury, stroke and ischaemic heart disease. We transformed primary outcomes to ratios of means to permit direct comparison across disease areas. Prespecified variables of interest were species, immunosuppression, cell type, cell origin, dose, delivery and timing of the cell therapy.

Results:The five datasets from 506 publications yielded data from 13 638 animals. Animal size affects therapeutic efficacy in an inverse manner. Cell type influenced efficacy in multiple datasets differently, with no clear trend for specific cell types being superior. Immunosuppression showed a negative effect in spinal cord injury and a positive effect in cardiac ischaemic models. There was a dose–dependent relationship across the different models. Pretreatment seems to be superior compared with administration after the onset of disease.

Conclusions: Preclinical cell therapy studies are affected by multiple variables, including species, immunosuppression, dose and treatment timing. These data are important when designing preclinical studies before commencing clinical trials.


Publication title

BMJ Open Science








Tasmanian School of Medicine


B M J Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© Author(s) (or their employer(s). his is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) license, ( which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Treatment of human diseases and conditions

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