Connections between nerves and stem cells may be essential for function – Drug Target Review

Researchers have demonstrated that stem cells attract neurons with different strengths and that connections between the two may be vital for cancer stem cell function.

networkd of interconnected nerves

Scientists exploring how neurons are implicated in tissue regeneration and cancer progression by stem cells have shown in separate studies that different stem cell types could be more attractive for regenerative medicines such as facial reconstruction and that cancer stem cells recruit neurons.

Comparing stem cell types in tissue regeneration

Researchers showed in their first study that diverse stem cell populations interact differently with neurons. Comparing two stem cell populations, human bone marrow and dental pulp stem cells, using organ-on-a-chip technology the team observed that, while both promoted neuronal growth, the dental pulp stem cells yielded more elongated neurons formed into dense networks with close connections to the stem cells.

“Dental stem cells produce specific molecules that are fundamental for the growth and attraction of neurons. Therefore, stem cells are abundantly innervated,” said Thimios Mitsiadis, research leader and professor at the Institute of Oral Biology of the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

The formation of such extended networks and the establishment of numerous contacts suggest that dental stem cells create functional connections with nerves of the face. “Therefore, these cells could represent an attractive choice for the regeneration of functional, properly innervated facial tissues,” added co-author and junior