Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a prevalent neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive and extensive loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) and their terminals in the striatum, which results in debilitating movement disorders. This devastating disease affects over 1 million individuals in the United States and is increasing in incidence worldwide. Currently available pharmacological and surgical therapies ameliorate clinical symptoms in the early stages of disease, but they cannot stop or reverse degeneration of DA neurons. Stem cell therapies have come to the forefront of the PD research field as promising regenerative therapies. The majority of preclinical stem cell studies in experimental models of PD are focused on the idea that stem cell-derived DA neurons could be developed for replacement of diseased neurons. Alternatively, our studies and the studies from other groups suggest that stem cells also have the potential to protect and stimulate regeneration of compromised DA neurons. This review is focused on strategies based on the therapeutic potential for PD of the neurotrophic and neuroregenerative properties of a subclass of stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).