Adipose-Derived Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Adipose-Derived Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Stem cells have the power to become any type of cell in the body. They are derived from various sources, of which adipose tissue from the subcutaneous fat is a generous source. Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC) can be coaxed into becoming dopamine-producing cells that can be used for treating Parkinson’s disease (PD). It is purported to not only improve symptoms but actually stop the disease in its tracks.

PD presents with symptoms of resting tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia are caused by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain. Early-stage PD can be symptomatically treated, but efficacy declines, and treatment-related side effects emerge as PD progresses. Therefore, cell replacement using stem cells remains an important potential therapy, especially in the advanced stages.


The goal of any treatment for PD is to alleviate the patient’s symptoms and restore any lost neurological function. Implanted stem cells help dopamine transport channels as well as eventually differentiate into dopaminergic neuron cells. ADSC’s have recently been shown to be induced to phenotypic as well as morphologic changes coherent with neuronal differentiation. This treatment approach is still experimental but there has been enormous progress. Embryonic stem cells have been used in rat models to produce dopamine-secreting neurons, which were able to survive and improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. ADSC has a much higher yield – one gram of adipose tissue yields approximately 5 x 103 stem cells, which is up to 500 times greater than the number of mesenchymal stem cells in one gram of bone marrow.
Moreover, ADSC is found to be equivalent to bone marrow stem cells, in terms of cell differentiation and other growth and anti-inflammatory effects.


The first step in cell-based regenerative therapy for PD is the production of functional dopaminergic neurons.
There are novel approaches in development that may help identify the areas of active neurogenesis capacity in the brain, which may enable successfully targeted stem cell-based therapy of PD. ADSCs are a suitable source of stem cells for transplantation as they are easily available, simply isolated, and can differentiate into neuronal cells.

Stem cell therapy for PD has some potential risks. These include the concern of tumor formation induced by stem cells. Another concern is to figure out exactly how to deliver stem cells into patients’ brains. Special measures are taken to optimize transport of the SVF across the blood-brain barrier to improve uptake in the brain. Novel approaches include radio-guided allogeneic therapy, a stereotactic technique of deep brain stimulation, striatum stereotactic pallidotomy, subarachnoid stem cell implantation via lumbar puncture, and stem cell implantation via brain stereotactic operation. Recently, ADSC treated with n-Butylidenepthalide was shown to have an improved therapeutic effect on motor symptoms of PD.


Clinical research is underway to establish the safety and effectiveness of ADSC therapy for PD. Until then, itis important to approach these experimental treatments with caution and with proper consultation with your doctor.

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