Concise Review: Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Stem Cells. 2017 Aug;35(8):1867-1880. doi: 10.1002/stem.2651. Epub 2017 Jun 30.


Stem cell-based therapies for neurodegenerative diseases aim at halting clinical deterioration by regeneration and by providing local support for damaged tissue. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold great potential for cell therapy as they can be efficiently derived from adult tissue, ex vivo expanded in culture and safely transplanted autologously. MSCs were also shown to be able to differentiate toward neural fates and to secrete a broad range of factors able to promote nervous tissue maintenance and repair. Moreover, upon transplantation, MSCs were shown capable of homing toward lesioned areas, implying their potential use as vehicles for therapeutic agents administration. Indeed, various advantageous effects were reported following human MSCs transplantation into rodent models of neurodegenerative diseases, such as neurotrophic factor-mediated protection, enhanced neurogenesis, modulation of inflammation, and abnormal protein aggregate clearance. Per journal style, most nonstandard abbreviations must be used at least two times in the abstract to be retained; NTF was used once and thus has been deleted. Recent studies have also used ex vivo manipulation for enhanced expression of potentially favorable factors, by so exploiting the homing capacity of MSCs for effective expression at the lesion site. Here, we will summarize current advancements in MSCs-based therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. We will examine the roles of central mechanisms suggested to mediate the beneficial effects of MSCs-based therapy and consider the augmentation of these mechanisms for superior clinical outcomes in rodent models of neurodegeneration as well as in clinical trials. Stem Cells 2017;35:1867-1880.

Keywords: Immunomodulation; Mesenchymal stem cells; Neurodegenerative diseases; Neurogenesis; Neurotrophic factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / immunology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy*


  • Nerve Growth Factors