Journal of Neurology

, Volume 258, Supplement 2, pp 346-353

First online:

Stem cell-based therapies in Parkinson’s disease: future hope or current treatment option?

  • Kai LoewenbrückAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Dresden University of Technology
  • , Alexander StorchAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Dresden University of TechnologyCRTD, Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, Dresden University of TechnologyDZNE, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Research Site Dresden Email author 

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most frequent neurodegenerative diseases and represents a major therapeutic challenge because of the so far missing therapeutic means to influence the ongoing loss of dopaminergic innervation to the striatum. Cell replacement has raised hope to offer the first restorative treatment option. Clinical trials have provided “proof of principle” that transplantation of dopamine-producing neurons into the striatum of PD patients can achieve symptomatic relief given that the striatum is sufficiently re-innervated. Various cell sources have been tested, including fetal ventral midbrain tissue, embryonic stem cells, fetal and adult neural stem cells and, after a ground-breaking discovery, induced pluripotent stem cells. Although embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells have emerged as the most promising candidates to overcome most of the obstacles to clinical successful cell replacement, each cell source has its unique drawbacks. This review does not only provide a comprehensive overview of the different cellular candidates, including their assets and drawbacks, but also of the various additional issues that need to be addressed in order to convert cellular replacement therapies from an experimental to a clinically relevant therapeutic alternative.


Embryonic stem cells Induced pluripotent stem cells Neural stem cells Parkinson’s disease Neurotransplantation Neuroregeneration