Journal article Open Access
Rivera, Francisco J ; Aigner, Ludwig
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating immune-mediated disease of the central nervous system (CNS). It is the most frequent neurological disease in young adults and affects over 2 million people worldwide. Current treatments reduce the relapse rate and the formation of inflammatory lesions in the CNS, but with only temporary and limited success. Despite the presence of endogenous oligodendroglial progenitors (OPCs) and of spontaneous remyelination, at least in early MS its levels and its qualities are apparently insufficient for a sustained endogenous functional repair. Therefore, novel MS therapies should consider not only immunemodulatory but also myelin repair activities. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent an attractive alternative to develop a cell-based therapy for MS. MSCs display stromal features and exert bystander immunemodulatory and neuroprotective activities. Importantly, MSCs induce oligodendrocyte fate decision and differentiation/maturation of adult neural progenitors, suggesting the existence of MSC-derived remyelination activity. Moreover, transplanted MSCs promote functional recovery and myelin repair in different MS animal models. Here, we summarize the current knowledge on endogenous mechanisms for remyelination and proposed autologous MSC therapy as a promising strategy for MS treatment.