stem cells in petri dish

Posted and filed under Parkinson's Disease, Stem Cell Research, Studies.

Earlier this year, a group of scientists led by Yoo-Hun Suh at the Seoul National University Medical College published their work demonstrating the potential use of human adipose-derived stem cells (hASC‘s) in Parkinson’s therapy. Their article, Therapeutic potentials of human adipose-derived stem cells on the mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, was published in the academic journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Many Parkinson’s disease treatments aim to compensate for the loss of dopamine that is seen in the brains of Parkinson’s patients, but because those treatments have their limitations, focus has shifted to the use of stem cells as a therapeutic option for Parkinson’s disease. The rise in stem cell research for Parkinson’s disease has also increased as scientists have recognized the importance of mitochondrial deterioration in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Stem cells that can be easily transplanted and readily proliferate are seen as ideal stem cell candidates for such treatments. hASC are pluripotent, meaning they can differentiate into a number of different types of cells, including cells that resemble neurons, the cells of the brain. These particular stem cells are useful because they tend not to create a reaction by the immune system, and they can pass the blood-brain barrier and proliferate within the brain.

In this study, the researchers used a common mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, which is created with a specific neurotoxin called 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). They injected hASC into the veins of mice and assessed how these stem cells affected Parkinson’s disease symptoms, dopamine levels in the striatum, the part of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease, and the integrity of mitochondria.

The researchers found that hASC improved the motor deficits in the mice modeled to display Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, the researchers also showed increased dopamine levels in the striatum of these mice. Finally, the researchers also showed that mitochondrial function was restored in mice who received hASC injections.

Overall, this study captures the significant potential of hASC to provide successful therapies for neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease. That the injection of these cells in a mouse model of Parkinson’s led to both behavioral and physiological improvements in mice demonstrates the great promise for stem cell therapies, and in this context, particularly for therapies developed from adipose-derived stem cells.


Choi, H., Kim, H., Oh, J., Park, H., Ra, J., Chang, K., & Suh, Y. (2015). Therapeutic potentials of human adipose-derived stem cells on the mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 36(10), 2885-2892.