Open Access Review

Perivascular mesenchymal stem cells in the adult human brain: a future target for neuroregeneration?

Ilknur Özen1, Jordi Boix1 and Gesine Paul12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Translational Neurology, Lund University, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Lund 22 184, Sweden

2 Department of Neurology, Scania University Hospital, Lund 22 185, Sweden

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Clinical and Translational Medicine 2012, 1:30  doi:10.1186/2001-1326-1-30

Published: 23 November 2012

Abstract

Perivascular adult stem cells have been isolated from several tissues, including the adult human brain. They have unique signatures resembling both pericytes and mesenchymal stem cells. Understanding the nature of these cells in their specific vascular niches is important to determine their clinical potential as a new adult stem cell source. Indeed, they have promising features in vitro in terms of multipotency, immunomodulation and secretion of growth factors and cytokines. However, their in vivo function is less known as yet. Recent emerging data show a crucial role of perivascular mesenchymal stem cells in tissue homeostasis and repair. Furthermore, these cells may play an important role in adult stem cell niche regulation and in neurodegeneration. Here we review the recent literature on perivascular mesenchymal stem cells, discuss their different in vitro functions and highlight especially the specific properties of brain-derived perivascular mesenchymal stem cells. We summarize current evidence that suggests an important in vivo function of these cells in terms of their regenerative potential that may indicate a new target cell for endogenous tissue regeneration and repair.

Keywords:
Pericytes; Mesenchymal stem cells; Perivascular niche; Neuroregeneration