Coaxing bone marrow stromal mesenchymal stem cells towards neuronal differentiation: progress and uncertainties
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- Chen, Y., Teng, F.Y.H. & Tang, B.L. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2006) 63: 1649. doi:10.1007/s00018-006-6019-5
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Multipotent adult stem cells capable of developing into particular neuronal cell types have great potential for autologous cell replacement therapy for central nervous system neurodegenerative disorders and traumatic injury. Bone marrow-derived stromal mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) appear to be attractive starting materials. One question is whether BMSCs could be coaxed to differentiate in vitro along neuronal or glial lineages that would aid their functional integration post-transplantation, while reducing the risk of malignant transformation. Recent works suggest that BMSCs could indeed be differentiated in vitro to exhibit some cellular and physiological characteristics of neural cell lineages, but it is not likely to be achievable with simple chemical treatments. We discussed recent findings pertaining to efforts in neuronal differentiation of BMSCs in vitro, and results obtained when these were transplanted in vivo.