Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 3152–3171 | Cite as

Neural Stem Cell-Based Regenerative Approaches for the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

  • Juan Xiao
  • Rongbing Yang
  • Sangita Biswas
  • Yunhua Zhu
  • Xin Qin
  • Min Zhang
  • Lihong Zhai
  • Yi Luo
  • Xiaoming He
  • Chun Mao
  • Wenbin Deng


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, autoimmune, inflammatory, and demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS), which ultimately leads to axonal loss and permanent neurological disability. Current treatments for MS are largely comprised of medications that are either immunomodulatory or immunosuppressive and are aimed at reducing the frequency and intensity of relapses. Neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult brain can differentiate into oligodendrocytes in a context-specific manner and are shown to be involved in the remyelination in these patients. NSCs may exert their beneficial effects not only through oligodendrocyte replacement but also by providing trophic support and immunomodulation, a phenomenon now known as “therapeutic plasticity.” In this review, we first provided an update on the current knowledge regarding MS pathogenesis and the role of immune cells, microglia, and oligodendrocytes in MS disease progression. Next, we reviewed the current progress on research aimed toward stimulating endogenous NSC proliferation and differentiation to oligodendrocytes in vivo and in animal models of demyelination. In addition, we explored the neuroprotective and immunomodulatory effects of transplanted exogenous NSCs on T cell activation, microglial activation, and endogenous remyelination and their effects on the pathological process and prognosis in animal models of MS. Finally, we examined various protocols to generate genetically engineered NSCs as a potential therapy for MS. Overall, this review highlights the studies involving the immunomodulatory, neurotrophic, and regenerative effects of NSCs and novel methods aiming at stimulating the potential of NSCs for the treatment of MS.


Neural stem cell Neural progenitor cell Microglia Oligodendrocyte Multiple sclerosis 



We thank the funding support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81601373), Hubei Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (2016CFB407), Bureau of Xiangyang City Science and Technology projects (No.[2014]6-7), Project for Discipline Groups Construction of Food New-type Industrialization of Hubei University of Arts and Science, National Institutes of Health (R01HD087566), National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Authors’ Contributions

All authors researched the data for the article, provided substantial contributions to discussions of the content, and wrote the article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Competing Interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Xiao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rongbing Yang
    • 2
  • Sangita Biswas
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yunhua Zhu
    • 1
  • Xin Qin
    • 1
  • Min Zhang
    • 1
  • Lihong Zhai
    • 1
  • Yi Luo
    • 1
  • Xiaoming He
    • 1
  • Chun Mao
    • 1
  • Wenbin Deng
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, Xiang Yang Central HospitalMedical College of Hubei University of Arts and ScienceXiangyangChina
  2. 2.Department of Biological TreatmentHandan Central HospitalHandanChina
  3. 3.School of Pharmaceutical SciencesSun Yat-sen UniversityShenzhenChina
  4. 4.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of California, DavisSacramentoUSA

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