Neurological disorders and the potential role for stem cells as a therapy

Br Med Bull. 2012;101(1):163-81. doi: 10.1093/bmb/lds001. Epub 2012 Feb 21.


Introduction Neurological disorders are routinely characterized by loss of cells in response to an injury or a progressive insult. Stem cells could therefore be useful to treat these disorders. Sources of data Pubmed searches of recent literature. Areas of agreement Stem cells exhibit proliferative capacity making them ideally suited for replacing dying cells. However, instead of cell replacement therapy stem cell transplants frequently appear to work via neurotrophic factor release, immunomodulation and upregulation of endogenous stem cells. Areas of controversy and areas timely for developing research Many questions remain with respect to the use of stem cells as a therapy, the answers to which will vary depending on the disorder to be treated and mode of action. Whereas the potential tumorigenic capability of stem cells is a concern, most studies do not support this notion. Further determination of the optimal cell type, and whether to perform allogeneic or autologous transplants warrant investigation before the full potential of stem cells can be realized. In addition, the use of stem cells to develop disease models should not be overlooked.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*