Neurological disorders are a major threat to public health. Stem cell-based regenerative medicine is now a promising experimental paradigm for its treatment, as shown in pre-clinical animal studies. Initial attempts have been on the replacement of neuronal cells only, but glial progenitors (GPs) are now becoming strong alternative cellular therapeutic candidates to replace oligodendrocytes and astrocytes as knowledge accumulates about their important emerging role in various disease processes. There are many examples of successful therapeutic outcomes for transplanted GPs in small animal models, but clinical translation has proved to be challenging due to the 1,000-fold larger volume of the human brain compared to mice. Human GPs transplanted into the mouse brain migrate extensively and can induce global cell replacement, but a similar extent of migration in the human brain would only allow for local rather than global cell replacement. We review here the mechanisms that govern cell migration, which could potentially be exploited to enhance the migratory properties of GPs through cell engineering pre-transplantation. We furthermore discuss the (dis)advantages of the various cell delivery routes that are available, with particular emphasis on intra-arterial injection as the most suitable route for achieving global cell distribution in the larger brain. Now that therapeutic success has proven to be feasible in small animal models, future efforts will need to be directed to enhance global cell delivery and migration to make bench-to-bedside translation a reality.
- glial progenitors
- neurological disorder
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience