Challenges, highlights, and opportunities in cellular transplantation: A white paper of the current landscape

the ASTS Cellular Transplantation Committee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although cellular transplantation remains a relatively small field compared to solid organ transplantation, the prospects for advancement in basic science and clinical care remain bountiful. In this review, notable historical events and the current landscape of the field of cellular transplantation are reviewed with an emphasis on islets (allo- and xeno-), hepatocytes (including bioartificial liver), adoptive regulatory immunotherapy, and stem cells (SCs, specifically endogenous organ-specific and mesenchymal). Also, the nascent but rapidly evolving field of three-dimensional bioprinting is highlighted, including its major processing steps and latest achievements. To reach its full potential where cellular transplants are a more viable alternative than solid organ transplants, fundamental change in how the field is regulated and advanced is needed. Greater public and private investment in the development of cellular transplantation is required. Furthermore, consistent with the call of multiple national transplant societies for allo-islet transplants, the oversight of cellular transplants should mirror that of solid organ transplants and not be classified under the unsustainable, outdated model that requires licensing as a drug with the Food and Drug Administration. Cellular transplantation has the potential to bring profound benefit through progress in bioengineering and regenerative medicine, limiting immunosuppression-related toxicity, and providing markedly reduced surgical morbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3225-3238
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • basic (laboratory) research/science
  • cellular transplantation (non-islet)
  • clinical research/practice
  • islet transplantation
  • islets of Langerhans
  • regenerative medicine
  • stem cells
  • tissue/organ engineering
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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