Though research has shown that stem cells are therapeutic candidates for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, scientists have been working on overcoming the challenges associated with effectively delivering these cells to the brain. A recent study, published in the journal Rejuvenation Research, demonstrated that intranasal delivery of stem cells provided both physiological and behavioral benefits in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease.
Once researchers had determined that stem cells could help patients suffering from brain disorders, a number of interventions were attempted. Surgical transplantation, though invasive, has been a popular method for direct stem cell delivery to the brain. However, this technique often causes local trauma and also tends to leads to problematic immune responses that make the transplant ineffective. Delivering cells through veins or arteries is a less invasive method for providing the brain with these cells, but this method can be less effective, with the cells sometimes traveling to organs other than the brain and becoming trapped there.
In their article, Therapeutic Efficacy of Intranasally Delivered Mesenchymal Stem Cells in a Rat Model of Parkinson Disease, Lusine Danielyan and colleagues describe their previous work that showed that intranasal application of mesenchymal stem cells lead to the successful integration of these cells in parts of the brain that are critical in Parkinson’s disease. Building on this work, they now show that intransal delivery of stem cells is not only feasible but has practical clinical applications. In a rat model of Parkinson’s disease, rats normally experience dopamine depletion in certain areas of the barin, as well as increased levels of inflammatory cytokines, which are cells of the immune system. Intransal administration of stem cells prevented both of these effects in the rat model.
Of particular significance is that researchers did more than show that intranasal delivery of stem cells leads to physiological changes that are consistent with effective Parkinson’s disease therapy. They also showed that the technique had therapeutic behavioral effects. When intranasal administration of stem cells was applied to the rat model of Parkinson’s dieases, motor function improved. As motor dysfunction is a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease, this finding demonstrates the significant promise that intransal delivery of stem cells holds for treating Parkinson’s disease.
Danielyan, L., Schafer, R., von Ameln-Mayerhofer, A., Bernhard, F., Verleysdonk, S., Buadze, M., . . . Frey, W. H., 2nd. (2011). Therapeutic efficacy of intranasally delivered mesenchymal stem cells in a rat model of Parkinson disease. Rejuvenation Res, 14(1), 3-16. doi: 10.1089/rej.2010.1130