Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most predominant neurodegenerative disorder worldwide, affecting over 10 million people. Characterized by a slow and progressive loss of control of the neurological system as a result of dopamine depletion, symptoms of PD often include tremors, slowed movement, impaired posture and balance, and gradual loss of automatic movements.
While PD cannot be cured, current treatment is focused on alleviating symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. Specifically, deep brain stimulation or therapies to increase DA levels by administering a DA precursor are the available therapy options for PD.
However, research has found that DA precursor therapy has little effect on the progression of PD and its efficacy decreases as the disease progresses.
Recent progress in the clinical understanding of regenerative medicine and its properties associated with stem cell therapy has provided the opportunity to evaluate new and potentially effective methods for treating a wide range of neurodegenerative illnesses, including PD. Specifically, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been found to be the most promising form of stem cell and have demonstrated the ability to differentiate into dopaminergic neurons and produce neurotrophic substances.
In this review, Heris et al. discuss the application of MSCs and MSC-derived exosomes in PD treatment.
Research has identified dysregulation of the autophagy system in the brains of PD patients, suggesting a potential role for autophagy in PD. In PD models, MSCs may activate autophagy signals and exhibit immunomodulatory effects that alleviate inflammation and improve tissue healing; this type of treatment had previously been used in treating various forms of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative illnesses.
The authors indicate that MSCs can be administered either systemically or locally. While systemic transplantation allows MSC-based treatment of pathologies affecting the entire body, local transplantation aims to alleviate symptoms associated with illnesses that originate from certain organs and is performed through intramuscular or direct tissue injection.
Research has also demonstrated that stem cell-derived dopaminergic transplants could be a suitable method for the long-term survival and function of transplants; in the case of MSC therapy, the average dose in animal models is usually 50 million cells for each kg of weight.
MSC-derived exosomes demonstrate therapeutic characteristics similar to their parents, have the ability to avoid whole-cell post-transplant adverse events, have a high safety profile, cannot turn into pre-malignant cells, and no cases of immune response and rejection have been reported.
While the use of MSCs in the treatment of PD continues to show potential, Heris et al. point out that many of the clinical trials have had few participants and can be costly. Considering these limiting factors, the results from these studies are not able to be generalized to everyday medical care without further clinical studies to address these concerns.
Source: “The potential use of mesenchymal stem cells and their exosomes in ….” 28 Jul. 2022, https://stemcellres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13287-022-03050-4.