Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Multiple Sclerosis: Does Neural Differentiation Really Matter?
The lack of therapies fostering remyelination and regeneration of the neural network deranged by the autoimmune attack occurring in multiple sclerosis (MS) is raising great expectations about stem cells therapies for tissue repair. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been proposed as a possible results for MS due to the reported capacity of transdifferentiation into neural cells and their ability at modulating immune responses. However, recent studies have demonstrated that many other functional properties are likely to play a role in the therapeutic plasticity of MSCs, including antiapoptotic, trophic and anti-oxidant effects. These features are mostly based on the paracrine release of soluble molecules, often dictated by local environmental cues. Based on the modest evidence of long-term engraftment and the striking clinical effects that are observed immediately after MSCs administration in the experimental model of MS, we do not favor a major role for transdifferentiation as an important mechanism involved in the therapeutic effect of MSCs.