Cord blood stem cells: a review of potential neurological applications

Stem Cell Rev. 2008 Dec;4(4):269-74. doi: 10.1007/s12015-008-9039-8. Epub 2008 Aug 5.


It is estimated that as many as 128M individuals in the United States, or 1 in 3 people, might benefit from regenerative medicine therapy. Many of these usages include applications that affect the nervous system, including cerebral palsy, stroke, spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson's. The numbers of such individuals affected range from 10,000 (for cerebral palsy) to 700,000 annually (for stroke) at a cost of more than $65B. For the foreseeable future, regenerative medicine entrée to the clinic will depend upon the development of adult or non-embryonic stem (ES) cell therapies. Currently, non-ES cells easily available in large numbers from affected individuals can be found in the bone marrow, adipose tissue and umbilical cord blood (CB). It is our belief that CB stem cells are the best alternative to ES cells as these stem cells can be used to derive tissues from the mesodermal, endodermal and ectodermal germ lineages. CB contains a mixture of different types of stem cells in numbers not seen in any other location including embryonic-like stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells, endothelial stem cells, epithelial stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells and unrestricted somatic stem cells. This review will summarize the findings reported in the literature with regards to the use of CB stem cells to neurological applications including in vitro work, pre-clinical animal studies, and patient clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Fetal Blood / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / transplantation
  • Stroke / therapy