Curr Opin Neurol. 2004 Jun;17(3):247-55
Pluchino S, Furlan R, Martino G.
Neuroimmunology Unit - Department of Biotechnology (DIBIT) and Department of Neurology and Neurophysiology, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
Spontaneous remyelination occurs in the central nervous system of patients with multiple sclerosis.
However, this process is not robust enough to promote a functional and stable recovery of the myelin architecture.
The development of cell-based therapies, aimed at promoting multifocal remyelination, is therefore foreseen.
Several experimental cell-based strategies aimed at replacing damaged myelin-forming cells have been developed in the last few years.
However, most of these therapeutic approaches - although consistently able to form new myelin sheaths at the transplantation site - are unfeasible owing to the mutifocality of the demyelinating process in multiple sclerosis patients and the inability to grow and produce large numbers of differentiated myelin-forming cells in vitro.
Stem cell-based therapies that partially overcome these limitations have been proposed recently.
Stem cell-based remyelinating therapies can be considered a plausible alternative strategy in immune-mediated demyelinating disorders.
However, before any potential applications in patients with multiple sclerosis can be envisaged, it is necessary to confront the following preliminary, and still unsolved, questions:
(1) the ideal stem cell source for transplantation;
(2) the most appropriate route of stem cell administration; and, last but not least,
(3) the best approach for achieving an appropriate, functional and long-lasting integration of transplanted stem cells into the host tissue.