There is a lot of promise regarding using stem cells for central nervous system (CNS) trauma. In vitro and preclinical trials have found that these cells can differentiate into various types of nervous system cells, secrete neuroprotective substances, stimulate myelin formation and neuronal development, and inhibit the formation of scars and their consequent obstructions (1,2).
This makes stem cells a potential treatment option for acute, subacute, or chronic phases of trauma. However, further research is needed to determine the full extent of their efficacy. Nevertheless, the potential benefits of stem cell therapy show a lot of promise for those suffering from CNS trauma.
In a worldwide review of 11 studies with 499 patients with spinal cord trauma occurring between 1 week and nine years prior, significant improvement was found in the sensory component and bladder function assessment scales. Still, there were no differences in motor parameters between patients who underwent stem cell transplantation and controls who underwent rehabilitation therapy only. There were also no serious adverse effects in the transplantation group. The researchers concluded that “Stem cell transplantation is effective and safe in improving the sensory and bladder functions […]; however, its effect on motor function is unclear” (4). In a recent review of the mechanisms of action of stem cells in spinal cord trauma, the authors stated that the beneficial effects were related to the induction of an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory microenvironment, which prevented continued nerve tissue damage and promoted functional nerve recovery (5).
1. Veneruso V, Rossi F, Villella A, Bena A, Forloni G, Veglianese P. Stem cell paracrine effect and delivery strategies for spinal cord injury regeneration. J Control Release. 2019. pii: S0168-3659(19)30121-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.02.038.
2. Dehghanian F, Soltani Z, Khaksari M. Can Mesenchymal Stem Cells Act Multipotential in Traumatic Brain Injury? J Mol Neurosci. 2020. doi: 10.1007/s12031-019-01475-w.
3. Weston NM, Sun D. The Potential of Stem Cells in Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2018;18(1):1. doi: 10.1007/s11910-018-0812-z.
4. Xu P, Yang X. The Efficacy and Safety of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation for Spinal Cord Injury Patients: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review. Cell Transplant. 2019;28(1):36-46. doi: 10.1177/0963689718808471.
5. An N, Yang J, Wang H, Sun S, Wu H, Li L, et al. Mechanism of mesenchymal stem cells in spinal cord injury repair through macrophage polarization. Cell Biosci. 2021;11(1):41. doi: 10.1186/s13578-021-00554-z.
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