Short Takes

April 2018 Issue




Stem Cells for Feline Asthma Woes

We’re not quite there yet, but a study shows promise

Stem-cell injections are common in veterinary medicine, but mostly for joint and lameness problems in dogs and horses. A pilot study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery may change things for cats with asthma.

Asthma is a scourge for cat owners, as affected cats usually require treatment for life. Therapy may involve oral medications, inhalers, and periodic hospitalization for severe flare-ups. Treatment can be costly, and it is certainly not fun for the owner or the cat.

This stem-cell study involved six cats with experimentally-induced asthma. Four of the cats received intravenous injections of stem cells derived from connective tissues over a period of about four months. The other two cats received a placebo treatment. The six cats were followed for nine months.

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Over time, the cats treated with stem cells showed statistically improved respiratory signs based on a variety of measurable factors, including blood counts, immunologic tests, and CAT scans. The results provide hope for asthmatic cats in the future. Before celebrating, however, more studies will need to be done with larger numbers of actual clinical cases of cats with feline asthma. 


Trzil JE, Masseau I, Webb TL, et al. Intravenous adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell therapy for the treatment of feline asthma: a pilot study. J Feline Med Surg. 2016;18(12):981-990.