Stem cell transplantation therapy for multifaceted therapeutic benefits after stroke

One of the exciting advances in modern medicine and life science is cell-based neurovascular regeneration of damaged brain tissues and repair of neuronal structures. The progress in stem cell biology and creation of adult induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has significantly improved basic and pre-clinical research in disease mechanisms and generated enthusiasm for potential applications in the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases including stroke. Endogenous neural stem cells and cultured stem cells are capable of self-renewal and give rise to virtually all types of cells essential for the makeup of neuronal structures. Meanwhile, stem cells and neural progenitor cells are well-known for their potential for trophic support after transplantation into the ischemic brain. Thus, stem cell-based therapies provide an attractive future for protecting and repairing damaged brain tissues after injury and in various disease states. Moreover, basic research on naïve and differentiated stem cells including iPS cells has markedly improved our understanding of cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurological disorders, and provides a platform for the discovery of novel drug targets. The latest advances indicate that combinatorial approaches using cell based therapy with additional treatments such as protective reagents, preconditioning strategies and rehabilitation therapy can significantly improve therapeutic benefits. In this review, we will discuss the characteristics of cell therapy in different ischemic models and the application of stem cells and progenitor cells as regenerative medicine for the treatment of stroke.