Mesenchymal stem cells secretome as a modulator of the neurogenic niche: basic insights and therapeutic opportunities

Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 Jul 13;9:249. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00249. eCollection 2015.


Neural stem cells (NSCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) share few characteristics apart from self-renewal and multipotency. In fact, the neurogenic and osteogenic stem cell niches derive from two distinct embryonary structures; while the later originates from the mesoderm, as all the connective tissues do, the first derives from the ectoderm. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that stem cells isolated from one niche could form terminally differentiated cells from the other. Additionally, these two niches are associated to tissues/systems (e.g., bone and central nervous system) that have markedly different needs and display diverse functions within the human body. Nevertheless they do share common features. For instance, the differentiation of both NSCs and MSCs is intimately associated with the bone morphogenetic protein family. Moreover, both NSCs and MSCs secrete a panel of common growth factors, such as nerve growth factor (NGF), glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), among others. But it is not the features they share but the interaction between them that seem most important, and worth exploring; namely, it has already been shown that there are mutually beneficially effects when these cell types are co-cultured in vitro. In fact the use of MSCs, and their secretome, become a strong candidate to be used as a therapeutic tool for CNS applications, namely by triggering the endogenous proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitors, among other mechanisms. Quite interestingly it was recently revealed that MSCs could be found in the human brain, in the vicinity of capillaries. In the present review we highlight how MSCs and NSCs in the neurogenic niches interact. Furthermore, we propose directions on this field and explore the future therapeutic possibilities that may arise from the combination/interaction of MSCs and NSCs.

Keywords: interactions; mesenchymal stem cells; neural stem cells; neurogenesis; niche; regenerative medicine; secretome.

Publication types

  • Review