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Keywords:

  • neural stem cells;
  • enteric nervous system;
  • enteric neural precursors;
  • enteric neuromuscular disorders;
  • transplantation

Abstract

The main goal of this review is to summarize the status of the research in the field of stem cells transplantation, as it is applicable to the treatment of gastrointestinal motility. This field of research has advanced tremendously in the past 10 years, and recent data produced in our laboratories as well as others is contributing to the excitement on the use of neural stem cells (NSC) as a valuable therapeutic approach for disorders of the enteric nervous system characterized by a loss of critical neuronal subpopulations. There are several sources of NSC, and here we describe therapeutic strategies for NSC transplantation in the gut. These include using NSC as a relatively nonspecific cellular replacement strategy in conditions where large populations of neurons or their subsets are missing or destroyed. As with many other recent “breakthroughs” stem cell therapy may eventually prove to be overrated. However, at the present time, it does appear to provide the hope for a true cure for many currently intractable diseases of both the central and the peripheral nervous system. Certainly more extensive research is needed in this field. We hope that our review will encourage new investigators in entering this field of research ad contribute to our knowledge of the potentials of NSC and other cells for the treatment of gastrointestinal dysmotility. Developmental Dynamics 236:33–43, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.