Since several years, adult/perinatal mesenchymal and neural crest stem cells have been widely used to help experimental animal to recover from spinal cord injury. More interestingly, recent clinical trials confirmed the beneficial effect of those stem cells, which improve functional score of patients suffering from such lesions. However, a complete understanding of the mechanisms of stem cell-induced recovery is seriously lacking. Indeed, spinal cord injuries gathered a wide range of biochemical and physiopathological events (such as inflammation, oxidative stress, axonal damage, demyelination, etc.) and the genuine healing process after cell transplantation is not sufficiently defined. This review aims to sum up recent data about cell therapy in spinal cord lesions using mesenchymal or recently identified neural crest stem cells, by describing precisely which physiopathological parameter is affected and the exact processes underlying the observed changes. Overall, although significant advances are acknowledged, it seems that further deep mechanistic investigation is needed for the development of optimized and efficient cell-based therapy protocols.
Keywords: Adult mesenchymal and neural crest stem cells; Cell therapy; Spinal cord injury.
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