Telomere Science Library

Publications, Presentations, and Videos
about the Nobel-Prize Winning Science of Telomere Biology

Mesenchymal stem cells-based therapy as a potential treatment in neurodegenerative disorders: is the escape from senescence an answer?

Authors: Alessandro A. Castorina, Marta Anna MA. Szychlinska, Rubina R. Marzagalli, Giuseppe G. Musumeci
Published: 07/22/2015, Neural regeneration research


Aging is the most prominent risk factor contributing to the development of neurodegenerative disorders. In the United States, over 35 million of elderly people suffer from age-related diseases. Aging impairs the self-repair ability of neuronal cells, which undergo progressive deterioration. Once initiated, this process hampers the already limited regenerative power of the central nervous system, making the search for new therapeutic strategies particularly difficult in elderly affected patients. So far, mesenchymal stem cells have proven to be a viable option to ameliorate certain aspects of neurodegeneration, as they possess high proliferative rate and differentiate in vitro into multiple lineages. However, accumulating data have demonstrated that during long-term culture, mesenchymal stem cells undergo spontaneous transformation. Transformed mesenchymal stem cells show typical features of senescence, including the progressive shortening of telomers, which results in cell loss and, as a consequence, hampered regenerative potential. These evidences, in line with those observed in mesenchymal stem cells isolated from old donors, suggest that senescence may represent a limit to mesenchymal stem cells exploitation in therapy, prompting scholars to either find alternative sources of pluripotent cells or to arrest the age-related transformation. In the present review, we summarize findings from recent literature, and critically discuss some of the major hurdles encountered in the search of appropriate sources of mesenchymal stem cells, as well as benefits arising from their use in neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, we provide some insights that may aid in the development of strategies to arrest or, at least, delay the aging of mesenchymal stem cells to improve their therapeutic potential.

PubMed Full Text