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01.12.2018 | Review | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Journal of Translational Medicine 1/2018

Effects of mesenchymal stem cells on solid tumor metastasis in experimental cancer models: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Journal of Translational Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2018
Jing-Huan Li, Wen-Shuai Fan, Mi-Mi Wang, Yan-Hong Wang, Zheng-Gang Ren
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12967-018-1484-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Jing-Huan Li and Wen-Shuai Fan contributed equally to this work



It has been reported mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are recruited to and become integral parts of the tumor microenvironment. MSCs might have an active role in solid tumor progression, especially cancer metastasis. However, the contribution of MSCs in the process of cancer metastasis is still controversial. In this review, we performed a meta-analysis on the effects of MSCs administration on cancer metastasis based on published preclinical studies.


The PRISMA guidelines were used. A total of 42 publications met the inclusion criteria. Outcome data on the incidence and the number of cancer metastasis as well as study characteristics were extracted. Quality of the studies was assessed according to SYRCLE Risk of Bias tool. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to pool estimates.


Of the 42 studies included, 32 reported that MSCs administration promoted outcome events (numbers or incidences of cancer metastasis), and 39 reported data suitable for meta-analysis. The median effect size (RR) was 2.04 for the incidence of cancer metastasis (95% CI 1.57–2.65, I2 = 21%), and the median effect size (SMD) was 1.23 for the number of cancer metastasis (95% CI 0.43–2.03, I2 = 89%). Heterogeneity was observed, with the greater impact based on study length and different ways of metastasis measurement and MSCs administration.


Our results suggested MSCs administration increased the number and the incidence of cancer metastasis in experimental cancer models. High heterogeneity and poor reported risk of bias limit the quality of these findings. Further preclinical studies with better design and adequate reporting are still needed.
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