At the 2008 annual meeting of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation (SGI), held this month in San Diego, California, researchers from the Yale School of Medicine reported improvement in mice with Parkinson’s disease who were treated with uterine stem cells. A debilitating neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson’s disease is characterized by insufficient dopamine action in the motor cortex and basal ganglia regions of the brain. In this study, stem cells that were derived from human endometrial stromal cells were successfully cultured to differentiate into neurons, complete with the characteristic axon-like projections and pyramidal cell bodies. When the differentiated cells were then transferred into the brains of the mice with Parkinson’s disease, the researchers observed not only the growth of new brain cells, but also an increase in dopamine levels in the brains of the mice.
According to Hugh Taylor, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and chief of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the Yale School of Medicine, “Now we have found that we can turn uterine stem cells into neurons that can boost dopamine levels and partially correct the problem of Parkinson’s disease. The implications of our findings are that women have a ready supply of stem cells that are easily obtained, are differentiable into other cell types, and have great potential for other purposes.”
The scientists were awarded the SGI President’s Presenter Award for their publication.