Background: Nearly 11,000 cases of spinal cord injury (SCI) are reported in the United States annually. Current management options give a median survival time of 38 years, however, no rehabilitative measures are available. Stem cells have been under constant research given their ability to differentiate into neural cell lines replacing non functional tissue. Efforts have been made to establish new synapses and provide a conducive environment, by grafting cells from autologous and fetal sources, including embryonic or adult stem cells, Schwann cells, genetically modified fibroblasts, bone stromal cells, and olfactory ensheathing cells and combinations/ variants thereof.
Methods: In order to discuss the underlying mechanism of SCI along with the previously mentioned sources of stem cells in context to SCI, a simple review of literature was conducted. An extensive literature search was conducted using the PubMed data base and online search engines and articles published in the last 15 years were considered along with some historical articles where a background was required.
Results: Stem cell transplantation for SCI is at the forefront with animal and in vitro studies providing a solid platform to enable well-designed human studies. Olfactory ensheathing cells seem to be the most promising, whilst bone marrow stromal cells appear as strong candidates for an adjunctive role.
Conclusion: The key strategy in developing the therapeutic basis of stem cell transplantation for spinal cord regeneration is to weed out the pseudo-science and opportunism. All the trials should be based on stringent scientific criteria and effort to bypass that should be strongly discouraged at the international level.
Surgical Neurology International
(2010). Stem cells for spinal cord regeneration: Current status. Surgical Neurology International, 1, 93.
Available at: https://ecommons.aku.edu/pakistan_fhs_mc_surg_neurosurg/36
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