Parkinsons disease (PD), a common degenerative disease in humans, is known to result from loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra and is characterized by severe motor symptoms of tremor, rigidity, bradykinsia and postural instability. Although levodopa administration, surgical neural lesion, and deep brain stimulation have been shown to be effective in improving parkinsonian symptoms, cell replacement therapy such as transplantation of dopamine neurons or neural stem cells has shed new light on an alternative treatment strategy for PD. While the difficulty in securing donor dopamine neurons and the immuno-rejection of neural transplants largely hinder application of neural transplants in clinical treatment, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) derived from somatic cells may represent a powerful tool for studying the pathogenesis of PD and provide a source for replacement therapies in this neurodegenerative disease. Yamanaka et al. [2006, 2007] first succeeded in generating iPS cells by reprogramming fibroblasts with four transcription factors, Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc in both mouse and human. Animal studies have further shown that iPS cells from fibroblasts could be induced into dopamine neurons and transplantation of these cells within the central nervous system improved motor symptoms in the 6-OHDA model of PD. More interestingly, neural stem cells or fibroblasts from patients can be efficiently reprogrammed and subsequently differentiated into dopamine neurons. Derivation of patient-specific iPS cells and subsequent differentiation into dopamine neurons would provide a disease-specific in vitro model for disease pathology, drug screening and personalized stem cell therapy for PD. This review summarizes current methods and modifications in producing iPS cells from somatic cells as well as safety concerns of reprogramming procedures. Novel reprogramming strategies that deter abnormal permanent genetic and epigenetic alterations are essential for propagating clinically-qualified iPS cells. Future investigation into cell transforming and reprogramming processes are needed to generate the disease-specific iPS cells for personalized regeneration medicine of PD patients by disclosing detailed reprogramming mechanisms.
Keywords: iPS cells, Parkinson's disease, disease pathology, disease therapy, personalized medicine, SCNT, 4-Oct, klf4, cmyc, nanog, lin28
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