Mesenchymal stem cells: potential in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases

Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014;9(6):513-21. doi: 10.2174/1574888x09666140923101110.


Mesenchymal Stem Cells or Marrow Stromal Cells (MSCs) have long been viewed as a potent tool for regenerative cell therapy. MSCs are easily accessible from both healthy donor and patient tissue and expandable in vitro on a therapeutic scale without posing significant ethical or procedural problems. MSC based therapies have proven to be effective in preclinical studies for graft versus host disease, stroke, myocardial infarction, pulmonary fibrosis, autoimmune disorders and many other conditions and are currently undergoing clinical trials at a number of centers all over the world. MSCs are also being extensively researched as a therapeutic tool against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Huntington's disease (HD) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MSCs have been discussed with regard to two aspects in the context of neurodegenerative diseases: their ability to transdifferentiate into neural cells under specific conditions and their neuroprotective and immunomodulatory effects. When transplanted into the brain, MSCs produce neurotrophic and growth factors that protect and induce regeneration of damaged tissue. Additionally, MSCs have also been explored as gene delivery vehicles, for example being genetically engineered to over express glial-derived or brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the brain. Clinical trials involving MSCs are currently underway for MS, ALS, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and stroke. In the present review, we explore the potential that MSCs hold with regard to the aforementioned neurodegenerative diseases and the current scenario with reference to the same.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy*
  • Regenerative Medicine