Cerebrovascular diseases are the third leading cause of death and the primary cause of long-term disability in the United States. The only approved therapy for stroke is tPA, strongly limited by the short therapeutic window and hemorrhagic complications, therefore excluding most patients from its benefits. Parkinson's and Huntington's disease are the other two most studied basal ganglia diseases and, as stroke, have very limited treatment options. Inflammation is a key feature in central nervous system disorders and it plays a dual role, either improving injury in early phases or impairing neural survival at later stages. Stem cells can be opportunely used to modulate inflammation, abrogate cell death and, therefore, preserve neural function. We here discuss the role of stem cells as restorative treatments for basal ganglia disorders, including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and stroke, with special emphasis to the recently investigated menstrual blood stem cells. We highlight the availability, proliferative capacity, pluripotentiality and angiogenic features of these cells and explore their present and future experimental and clinical applications.
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