Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Complex Crohn’s Perianal Fistulas

Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Complex Crohn’s Perianal Fistulas


Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can lead to the development of perianal fistulas. These fistulas are abnormal passageways that connect the intestine to the skin around the anus. They can cause pain, drainage of pus, stool, or blood and severely impact the quality of life of affected individuals. Conventional treatments for Crohn's perianal fistulas have limitations and often result in high recurrence rates. However, recent advancements in medical science have introduced a promising treatment option called Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy (MST) for therapy refractory complex Crohn’s perianal fistulas. In this article, we will explore the effectiveness, benefits and potential side effects of this innovative treatment approach.

Understanding Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a type of adult stem cells found in various tissues, such as bone marrow and adipose tissue. These cells have the remarkable ability to differentiate into different cell types and possess immunomodulatory properties, meaning they can regulate the immune response in the body. MST involves the use of MSCs to reinforce the surgical closure of the internal opening of perianal fistulas. The MSCs can influence the inflammatory processes and aid in tissue reconstruction, offering a potential solution for therapy refractory complex Crohn’s perianal fistulas.

Evidence of Effectiveness

A recent case series published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy explored the effectiveness of MST for complex Crohn’s perianal fistulas. The study included 30 patients who had previously failed both anti-TNF treatment and surgical closure. The patients underwent surgical closure of the internal opening combined with MST. The results showed that 43.3% of the patients achieved radiological remission, with a significant decrease in the severity of the fistulas. Additionally, 70% of the patients experienced clinical closure and there was a significant improvement in their quality of life. These findings suggest that MST can be a promising treatment strategy for therapy refractory Crohn’s perianal fistulas.

Benefits of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy

1. Improved Fistula Closure

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MST) has shown promising results in achieving both radiological and clinical closure of complex Crohn's perianal fistulas. The use of MSCs has demonstrated the ability to effectively heal and seal these challenging fistula tracts. This can lead to a significant reduction in debilitating symptoms experienced by patients, such as persistent pain, drainage, and overall discomfort associated with the fistulas.

2. Quality of Life Improvement

The successful closure of perianal fistulas through MST can greatly improve the overall quality of life for individuals living with Crohn's disease. By addressing this debilitating complication, MST can alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with fistulas, improve bowel control and function, and enhance the psychological well-being of patients. This can have a profound impact on their ability to engage in daily activities, social interactions, and overall physical and mental health.

3. Alternative to Conventional Treatments

For patients with Crohn's disease who have failed to respond to or experienced limited success with conventional treatments, such as anti-TNF therapy and surgical closure of fistulas, MST offers a new and promising therapeutic option. This alternative approach provides hope for those individuals who have exhausted other treatment avenues and are seeking an effective solution to manage their complex perianal fistulas.

4. Non-Invasive Procedure

Mesenchymal stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the injection of MSCs directly into the fistula tract. This approach eliminates the need for extensive surgical interventions, which can be associated with significant risks, prolonged recovery times, and potential complications. The non-invasive nature of MST reduces the burden on the patient and allows for a more streamlined and less traumatic treatment option compared to traditional surgical methods.

Potential Side Effects

While MST shows promise as a treatment option, it is essential to consider potential side effects. The case series did not report any significant adverse events associated with MST. However, as with any medical procedure, there is always a small risk of infection, bleeding, or allergic reactions. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to assess individual risks and benefits.


Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy holds great potential as a treatment option for therapy refractory complex Crohn’s perianal fistulas. The case series discussed in this article demonstrates the effectiveness of MST in achieving radiological remission, clinical closure and significant improvement in quality of life. While further research is needed to validate these findings and explore long-term outcomes, MST offers hope for individuals who have not responded to conventional treatments. If you or someone you know is struggling with therapy refractory complex Crohn’s perianal fistulas, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to discuss the potential benefits and risks of MST as a treatment option.


1. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for therapy refractory complex Crohn's perianal fistulas: a case series
2. DOP77 Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for refractory Crohn’s perianal fistulas: a case series
3. Stem Cell Injection for Complex Refractory Perianal Fistulas in Crohn's Disease: A Single Center Initial Experience
4. Local fistula injection of allogeneic human amnion epithelial cells is safe and well tolerated in patients with refractory complex perianal Crohn's disease
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