During the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), many critically ill patients died of severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. To date, no specific treatments have been proven to be effective for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In the animal models and clinical applications, mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) have been shown safety and efficacy for the treatment of respiratory virus infection through their abilities of differentiation and immunomodulation. Besides, possessing several advantages of MSC-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) over MSCs, EV-based therapy also holds potential therapeutic effects in respiratory virus infection. In this review, we summarized the basic characteristics and mechanisms of COVID-19 and MSCs, outlined some preclinical and clinical studies of MSCs or MSC-EVs for respiratory virus infection such as influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2, shed light on the common problems that we should overcome to translate MSC therapy into clinical application, and discussed some safe issues related to the use of MSCs.
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