Acute pancreatitis (AP) is an acute gastrointestinal disorder that is the most common and requiring emergency hospitalization. Its incidence is increasing worldwide, thus increasing the burden of medical services. Approximately 20% of the patients develop moderate to severe necrotizing pancreatitis associated with pancreatic or peri-pancreatic tissue necrosis and multiple organ failure. There are many reports about the anti-inflammatory effect of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on pancreatitis and the repair of tissue damage. MSCs cells come from a wide range of sources, autologous MSCs come from bone marrow and allogeneic MSCs such as umbilical cord blood MSCs, placenta-derived MSCs, etc. The wide source is not only an advantage of MSCs but also a disadvantage of MSCs. Because of different cell sources and different methods of collection and preparation, it is impossible to establish a unified standard method for evaluation of efficacy. The biggest advantage of iMSCs is that it can be prepared by a standardized process, and can be prepared on a large scale, which makes it easier to commercialize. This paper reviews the present status of diagnosis and progress of MSCs therapy for AP. © 2019 The Authors. Physiological Reports published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society.