Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that occurs as a result of the body’s immune system attacking the protective sheath, or myelin, responsible for covering nerve fibers. Characterized by progressive nerve deterioration and damage of the nerve fibers, MS is currently estimated to affect nearly 600,000 adults in the United States.
While a specific cause of MS has not yet been determined, recent findings have suggested interactions between environmental and genetic factors as contributors to the susceptibility to MS.
Current pharmaceutical treatments for MS have demonstrated the ability to slow symptoms associated with MS but have not demonstrated the ability to treat or prevent the disease itself.
Recent studies have identified mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as having anti-inflammatory properties that could potentially be an effective therapy option for preventing or managing overactivity and self-antigen attacks by T cells and macrophages that are commonly associated with MS.
As part of this review, Alanazi et al. examined the most relevant clinical trials that utilized MSCs from a variety of sources as part of their investigation into the effectiveness of these stem cells as a potential therapy for MS.
MSCs are able to be easily isolated from multiple sources of the human body, including bone marrow, adipose tissue, umbilical cord, and the placenta. These stem cells have also demonstrated the ability to be expanded in culture media and to be safely utilized as autologous treatment without the risk of rejection.
Regardless of their source, MSCs, in general, have been demonstrated to be highly proliferative, capable of self-renewal, and have immunomodulatory and neurodegenerative effects. In addition, MSCs demonstrate the ability to differentiate and secrete anti-inflammatory factors that allow them to control the progress of autoimmune diseases, including MS.
After examining numerous clinical trials utilizing MSCs from a range of sources, the authors conclude that MSCs – regardless of their source – will all work on inhibiting CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation, T regulatory cells (Tregs), and macrophage switch into the auto-immune phenotype.
While there are many good sources of MSCs, Alanazi et al. also conclude that previously conducted clinical trials demonstrate umbilical cord MSCs (UCMSCs) to be the best option for the management of Multiple Sclerosis for several reasons. These reasons include faster self-renewal than other MSCs, the ability to differentiate into three germ layers, and the observed ability to accumulate in damaged tissue or inflamed areas.
Additionally, and besides being one of the few MSC sources without ethical concerns, UCMSCs offer benefits from a practical standpoint The separation of MSCs from the umbilical cord is easy and painless, the number of cells collected per unit is high, UCMSC transfusion is not expensive, and UCMSCs have been shown to be very safe to use in this application.
Considering the information presented in this review, Alanazi et al. recommend the clinical use of UCMSCs for regenerative medicine and immunotherapy.
Source: “Mesenchymal stem cell therapy: A review of clinical trials for multiple ….” 23 Aug. 2022, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36092509/.