Treatment of Neurodegenerative Pathologies Using Undifferentiated Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Neurodegenerative diseases are very disabling disorders affecting central and peripheral nervous systems, characterized by neuronal loss, inflammatory reaction, and direct or indirect involvement of the immune system. Currently there are no effective treatments to counteract the progressive neuronal degeneration and, for this reason, neurodegenerative diseases are good targets for cell therapy approaches based on the use of Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Initially attracting interest because of their supposed differentiation potential towards neural lineages, it is now largely recognized that undifferentiated Mesenchymal Stem Cells can exert a trophic and protective action on neurons and glial cells. The neuroprotective effect is mediated by the immunomodulatory properties of Mesenchymal Stem Cells and by their ability to release soluble trophic factors that counteract neuronal death and stimulate the endogenous neurogenesis. The promising results obtained up to now in pre-clinical studies on different neurodegenerative disease models and the preliminary data from clinical trials lead one to conclude that MSCs may represent an important therapeutic prospect.
KeywordsAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Brain Derive Neurotrophic Factor Neuronal Survival Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patient Glial Derive Neurotrophic Factor
I am grateful to Prof. G. Tredici for his useful suggestions, to Dr. E Donzelli for the design of Fig. 16.1 and to E. Genton for the English revision of the text.
This work has been supported by Ministero Italiano Università e Ricerca (MIUR) – Firb Futuro in Ricerca 2008 Prot. N° RBFR08VSVI_001.
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