1062-3604/03/3403- $25.00 © 2003
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2003, pp. 128–130. Translated from Ontogenez, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2003, pp. 164–166.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Korochkin.
STATE OF THE PROBLEM
are the cells that preserve the potential
for development in different directions. The stem cell
can give rise to skin, nerve, or blood cells.
Two kinds of stem cells are distinguished:
onic stem cells (ESC)
regional stem cells (SC)
The former are present at the earliest stages of develop-
ment, before the beginning of organogenesis. The latter
are found later, when organs and tissues are formed. It
was believed that the adult organism is devoid of SCs.
However, it was shown by the Russian histologist Alex-
ander Fridenshtein that SCs are present in the adult
organism, although their amount is very small (frac-
tions of per cent).
SCs are found in practically all organs, including
CNS. Their presence increases the restorative capacity
of the organism, including the nervous system.
Nerve stem cells are localized predominantly in the
area, where the
cells are located that line the brain ventricle wall. They
can be isolated and cultured in a special medium.
In addition to the SCs which, after the damage of the
corresponding organ tissues, migrate to the zone of
damage, divide, and differentiate, there is a “central
store of spare parts”:
stromal bone marrow cells
These cells are universal, they come to a damaged
organ or tissue with the blood ﬂow and, under the inﬂu-
ence of various signal substances, are transformed in
required specialized cells that substitute the dead cells.
Speciﬁcally, it was shown that introduction of the stro-
mal bone marrow cells in the zone of cardiac muscle
damage (zone of infarction) removes almost fully the
phenomena of postinfarction heart failure in experi-
mental animals. For example, the stromal cells intro-
duced into pigs with experimentally induced infarction
are fully transformed in the cardiac muscle cells
already within eight weeks and restore the muscle func-
The results of such therapy are impressive. Accord-
ing to the data of the American Cardiological Society
for 2000, 90% of the stromal bone marrow cells intro-
duced in the rats with experimentally induced infarc-
tion were transformed in the cardiac muscle cells.
The Japanese biologists obtained the cardiac muscle
cells from the stromal bone marrow cells of mice under
the laboratory conditions: 5-azacytidine was added to
the culture of stromal cells and they began to differen-
tiate into the cardiac muscle cells. This cell therapy is
very promising for the postinfarction restoration of the
cardiac muscle, since the own (stem) stromal cells are
used. They are not rejected and, in addition, their malig-
nant transformation is excluded.
The stromal cell therapy is widely used in orthope-
dics. This is related to the existence of special proteins,
bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP), that induce dif-
ferentiation of the stromal cells into osteoblasts. The
clinical tests gave very promising results. For example,
in the USA a special collagen plate with BMP was
transplanted into a 91-year old patient with a fracture
nonhealing for 13 years. The stromal cells coming to
the zone of fracture were “drawn” to the plate and,
under the inﬂuence of BMP, transformed in the bone
tissue cells. The fractured bone was restored in this
patient within eight months after the operation. Special
porous sponges ﬁlled with stromal cells and corre-
sponding inducing substances, that direct cell differen-
tiation, are now tested in the USA and will soon be used
in clinical medicine.
Stem cells and, speciﬁcally, stromal cells, can be
essential for treatment of various neurodegenerative
and neurological diseases, such as parkinsonism,
Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, cerebellar
ataxia, multiple sclerosis, etc. The neurologists from
the American Institute of Neurological Diseases and
Stanford University found that the stromal bone mar-
row cells can differentiate in the neural direction and,
hence, the human bone marrow can be used as a source
of stem cells for restoration of brain damage. These
cells can also transform in the liver and kidney cells, as
well as in the insulin-synthesizing cells, which can be
used for treatment of diabetes.
Hence, the patient can become his own donor,
which will prevent the reaction of immunological
incompatibility of tissues.
Eva Misei and her collaborators demonstrated that
the stem cells can reach the damaged site, including the
brain, wherever they are implanted, and ensure the
restorative processes at this site. For example, when the
stromal stem cells were intravenously injected into
adult mice, various neural derivatives were found in
many brain areas, including neocortex, hypothalamus,
cerebral trunk, and cerebellum.
Attempts are undertaken to use stem cells of the
umbilical cord and placenta and embryonic stem cells
in clinical medicine. The embryonic stem cells are
raised as lines, which can easily be affected (and trans-
formed) by various growth factors. However, there are
some complications: they are prone to malignant trans-
formation, a high frequency of various chromosomal
defects is observed in them, and, upon transplantation,