An Overview of Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder characterized by stiffness, shaking, and difficulty maintaining coordination between different body parts. PD mostly affects people over 65 and 80. It occurs when nerve cells in the part of the brain that regulates movement suffer injury or die. These neurons produce an essential brain chemical called dopamine. When they become impaired, they secrete less dopamine, which results in the movement problems associated with PD.
The exact cause attributed to these neurons' death largely remains unknown. However, researchers report that neuroinflammation, environmental toxins, mitochondrial dysfunction, and oxidative stress may be responsible for their impairment. Some of the most common PD symptoms include slowness of locomotion, stiffness of the trunk and limbs, and visible tremor in several body parts. These signs could vary among different patients, though.
Although there is no cure for PD, certain medicines and surgical procedures can help relieve some of its symptoms. Some of the medicines prescribed for PD enhance dopamine levels in the brain and control nonmotor symptoms. These treatments may have improved a few symptoms of the disease to some degree. But, they have not been successful at preventing the progression of PD. Moreover, they have also been reported to cause certain side effects.
Stem cell therapy has emerged as an effective option for the treatment of PD. However, the human dental tissue-derived mesenchymal cells (for example, DPSCs and SHED) manifest the greatest potential for treating PD among all available stem cell types. Both DPSCs and SHED possess the ability to secrete signal transduction proteins, extracellular vesicles, and nerve growth factors to repair damaged nerve cells.
Clinical trials conducted on animal models have revealed that these cells can quickly reach the brain and differentiate into DAergic neuron-like cells if injected into the body through the intranasal route. Furthermore, they also lower the inflammatory environment in the affected parts of the brain. Thus, there is ample evidence to support the claim that MSCs help decrease the disease's symptoms and modify its course. However, more research is required to fully understand this process.
Surgery should always be treated as a final option, an extreme solution when there aren’t any others left. Thanks to modern science, we now have medical solutions that are less extreme and more effective. Because surgery is unnatural, your immune system can take time to adjust to surgical changes such as metal rods and bolts or microchips. Surgery can have short-term negative side effects such as inflammation or swelling, but it can also have long-term drawbacks, physically and mentally. In most cases, recovering from surgeries can take time
In conclusion, it could be said that the latest studies conducted on MSCs for the treatment of PD have shown significant progress. With further research on this topic, many PD patients can benefit from this remarkable therapy option.
Xiao, Z., Lei, T., Liu, Y. et al. The potential therapy with dental tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells in Parkinson’s disease. Stem Cell Res Ther 12, 5 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-020-01957-4.
Boika A, Aleinikava N, Chyzhyk V, Zafranskaya M, Nizheharodava D, Ponomarev V. Mesenchymal stem cells in Parkinson's disease: Motor and nonmotor symptoms in the early posttransplant period. Surg Neurol Int. 2020 Nov 11;11:380. doi: 10.25259/SNI_233_2020. PMID: 33408914; PMCID: PMC7771400.