Progress of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Neural and Retinal Diseases
Complex circuitry and limited regenerative power make central nervous system (CNS) disorders the most challenging and difficult for functional repair. With elusive disease mechanisms, traditional surgical and medical interventions merely slow down the progression of the neurodegenerative diseases. However, the number of neurons still diminishes in many patients. Recently, stem cell therapy has been proposed as a viable option. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), a widely-studied human adult stem cell population, have been discovered for more than 20 years. MSCs have been found all over the body and can be conveniently obtained from different accessible tissues: bone marrow, blood, and adipose and dental tissue. MSCs have high proliferative and differentiation abilities, providing an inexhaustible source of neurons and glia for cell replacement therapy. Moreover, MSCs also show neuroprotective effects without any genetic modification or reprogramming. In addition, the extraordinary immunomodulatory properties of MSCs enable autologous and heterologous transplantation. These qualities heighten the clinical applicability of MSCs when dealing with the pathologies of CNS disorders. Here, we summarize the latest progress of MSC experimental research as well as human clinical trials for neural and retinal diseases. This review article will focus on multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, autism, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.