A New Potential Therapy for Parkinson's Disease Using Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Did you know? Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world after Alzheimer's disease. These diseases have indices of 1% and 5% for populations over the age of 65, respectively. A key pathological feature of Parkinson's disease is the loss of DAergic neurons in the "substantia nigra pars compacta" (SNpc) which leads to a significant decrease in the dopamine content (DA) in the striatum, and there are also some Lewy bodies with α-synuclein as a critical component that helps the neurons survive.

When individuals suffer a loss of these neurons, it could lead to symptoms associated with bradykinesia, static tremor, postural gait disorders, rigidity, and many other non-motor symptoms. However, the exact pathogenesis of PD still hasn't been identified; it has been reported that oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, environmental toxins, and neuroinflammation are essential factors that kill DAergic neurons.

Currently, one of the most widely used and effective treatments used for curing PD patients is drug therapy which includes DA agonists, monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibitors, amantadine, and levodopa, catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors, and some anticholinergic drugs. As nucleus destruction, physiotherapy, and deep brain stimulation (DBS) are effective and novel methods that have exceptionally great potential for application and popularization. Furthermore, there are some effective adjuvant therapies for partial treatment and remission of patients with PD. Although these treatments have improved certain symptoms of PD to some extent, they haven't been able to prevent the progression of Parkinson's Disease and cause some side effects as well.

In recent years, cell transplantation is considered a novel option for treating deep brain stimulation (DBS). Stem cells are used widely in PD to counteract the harmful effects of DAergic neuron loss due to their high capacity for proliferative and potential for multi-lineage differentiation.

Out of all the possible sources of stem cells, human dental tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells not only feature the universal characteristics of stem cells but have also attracted an increasing amount of attention from the PD researchers for their immunomodulatory activity, neural crest origin, and non-tumorigenic properties and also for avoiding any ethical considerations taking place due to transplantation. Owing to the neurocrest origin of DPSCs, they achieve previously unimagined capability for the treatment of central nervous system diseases and peripheral nerve injuries such as alveolar and caries bone atrophy.

All in all, the DPSCs can play an important role in the treatment of PD. Also, it can be differentiated into DAergic neuron-like cells and secrete neurotrophic factors such as glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). As mentioned earlier, the DPSCs have high proliferation and neurodifferentiation ability, immunomodulatory characteristics, and non-ethical and material advantages, making them potential clinical therapeutic materials for PD.

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