There is growing evidence to suggest that reservoirs of stem cells may reside in several types of adult tissue. These cells may retain the potential to transdifferentiate from one phenotype to another, presenting exciting possibilities for cellular therapies. Recent discoveries in the area of neural differentiation are particularly exciting given the limited capacity of neural tissue for intrinsic repair and regeneration. Adult adipose tissue is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells, providing an abundant and accessible source of adult stem cells. These cells have been termed adipose derived stem cells (ASC). The characterization of these ASCs has defined a population similar to marrow-derived and skeletal muscle-derived stem cells. The success seen in differentiating ASC into various mesenchymal lineages has generated interest in using ASC for neuronal differentiation. Initial in vitro studies characterized the morphology and protein expression of ASC after exposure to neural induction agents. Additional in vitro data suggests the possibility that ASCs are capable of neuronal activity. Progress in the in vitro characterization of ASCs has led to in vivo modeling to determine the survival, migration, and engraftment of transplanted ASCs. While work to define the mechanisms behind the transdifferentiation of ASCs continues, their application to neurological diseases and injuries should also progress. The subject of this review is the capacity of adipose derived stem cells (ASC) for neural transdifferentiation and their application to the treatment of various neurologic disorders.
Keywords: Neuronal transdifferentiation, stromal cells, neural markers, transplantation, cytokine
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