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Cerebellum. 2012 Dec;11(4):861-71. doi: 10.1007/s12311-012-0406-2.

Human mesenchymal stem cells increase anti-oxidant defences in cells derived from patients with Friedreich's ataxia.

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Multiple Sclerosis and Stem Cell Group, Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder which is, at present, incurable. Oxidative damage and inhibition of mitochondrial function are key determinants of cellular damage in FRDA, since there is greater sensitivity to oxidative stress in cells with frataxin deficiency. In addition, frataxin-deficient cells have an impaired ability to recruit antioxidant defences against endogenous oxidative stress. We have recently shown that factors derived from bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) increase hydrogen peroxide scavenging enzymes and offer protection against hydrogen peroxide-mediated injury in cells derived from patients with FRDA. Here we extend these studies and have performed a series of experiments showing that expression of superoxide dismutase (1 and 2) enzymes is reduced in FRDA cells but can be restored by treatment with conditioned medium from human MSCs. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that exposure to factors secreted by MSCs increases resistance to nitric oxide-induced oxidative stress in FRDA fibroblasts through, at least in part, restoring the expression of the superoxide dismuting enzymes and via modulation of PI(3) kinase/Akt pathways. These findings suggest that MSCs secrete factors that improve the cellular homeostasis of cells derived from FRDA patients and provide suitable support for their enhanced survival. This study further suggests the potential therapeutic use of MSCs in patients with FRDA.

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