In horses with osteoarthritis, is mesenchymal stem cell therapy more effective at managing lameness than intra-articular corticosteroids?

  • Laura Pratley University of Liverpool Institute of Veterinary Science



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PICO question

In horses with osteoarthritis, is mesenchymal stem cell therapy more effective at managing lameness than intra-articular corticosteroids?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research question


The number and type of study designs reviewed

Nine papers were critically reviewed; seven experimental trials and two randomised controlled double-blinded trials.

Strength of evidence

Weak to moderate

Outcomes reported

There is moderate evidence to suggest that chondrogenically induced mesenchymal stem cells combined with equine allogenic plasma have a good efficacy at reducing lameness in the short-term, in horses with mild to moderate lameness associated with osteoarthritis. However, there is no definitive evidence directly comparing mesenchymal stem cell therapy and corticosteroids, to identify if mesenchymal stem cell therapy is more effective than intra-articular corticosteroids.


In horses with mild to moderate lameness associated with osteoarthritis, there is moderate evidence to suggest that mesenchymal stem cell therapies are effective at managing lameness. However, it is undetermined whether they are more effacious than intra-articular corticosteroids.


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision-making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


Open Access Peer Reviewed


Barrachina, L., Remacha, A. R., Romero, A., Vitoria, A., Albareda, J., Prades, M., Roca, M., Zaragoza, P., Vazquez, F. J. and Rodellar, C. (2018). 'Assessment of effectiveness and safety of repeat administration of proinflammatory primed allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells in an equine model of chemically induced osteoarthritis', BMC Veterinary Research, 14(1), pp. 241. DOI:

Broeckx, S., Suls, M., Beerts, C., Vandenberghe, A., Seys, B., Wuertz-Kozak, K., Duchateau, L. and Spaas, J. H. (2014a). 'Allogenic mesenchymal stem cells as a treatment for equine degenerative joint disease: a pilot study', Current Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 9(6), pp. 497–503. DOI:

Broeckx, S., Zimmerman, M., Crocetti, S., Suls, M., Mariën, T., Ferguson, S. J., Chiers, K., Duchateau, L., Franco-Obregón, A., Wuertz, K. and Spaas, J. H. (2014b). 'Regenerative therapies for equine degenerative joint disease: A preliminary study', PLoS ONE, 9(1). DOI:

Broeckx, S. Y., Martens, A., Spaas, J., Bertone, A. L., Van Brantegem, L., Duchateau, L., Van Hecke, L., Dumoulin, M., Oosterlinck, M., Chiers, K., Hussein, H. and Pille, F. E. A. (2019a). The use of equine chondrogenic-induced mesenchymal stem cells as a treatment for osteoarthritis: A randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled proof-of-concept study. Equine Veterinary Journal. 21(6), pp 787–794. DOI:

Broeckx, S. Y., Seys, B., Suls, M., Vandenberghe, A., Marien, T., Adriaensen, E., Declercq, J., Van Hecke, L., Braun, G., Hellmann, K. and Spaas, J. H. (2019b). 'Equine Allogeneic Chondrogenic Induced Mesenchymal Stem Cells Are an Effective Treatment for Degenerative Joint Disease in Horses', Stem Cells and Development, 28(6), pp. 410–422. DOI:

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Vol. 5 No. 3 (2020): The third issue of 2020

Section: Knowledge Summaries

Categories :  Small Animal  /  Dogs  /  Cats  /  Rabbits  /  Production Animal  /  Cattle  /  Sheep  /  Pig  /  Equine  / 

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