Current Status and Challenges of Stem Cell Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease

J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;84(3):917-935. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200863.


Neurodegenerative diseases called tauopathies, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), frontotemporal dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy, and Parkinson's disease, among others, are characterized by the pathological processing and accumulation of tau protein. AD is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease and is characterized by two lesions: neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and neuritic plaques. The presence of NFTs in the hippocampus and neocortex in early and advanced stages, respectively, correlates with the patient's cognitive deterioration. So far, no drugs can prevent, decrease, or limit neuronal death due to abnormal pathological tau accumulation. Among potential non-pharmacological treatments, physical exercise has been shown to stimulate the development of stem cells (SCs) and may be useful in early stages. However, this does not prevent neuronal death from the massive accumulation of NFTs. In recent years, SCs therapies have emerged as a promising tool to repopulate areas involved in cognition in neurodegenerative diseases. Unfortunately, protocols for SCs therapy are still being developed and the mechanism of action of such therapy remains unclear. In this review, we show the advances and limitations of SCs therapy. Finally, we provide a critical analysis of its clinical use for AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; neural stem cells; neurodegeneration; stem cells; tau protein; therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy*
  • Amyloid / metabolism
  • Government Regulation
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neocortex / pathology
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology*
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • Amyloid
  • tau Proteins