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Gerontology. 2016;62(2):216-25. doi: 10.1159/000381877. Epub 2015 May 29.

Stem Cells in Wound Healing: The Future of Regenerative Medicine? A Mini-Review.

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Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif., USA.


The increased risk of disease and decreased capacity to respond to tissue insult in the setting of aging results from complex changes in homeostatic mechanisms, including the regulation of oxidative stress and cellular heterogeneity. In aged skin, the healing capacity is markedly diminished resulting in a high risk for chronic wounds. Stem cell-based therapies have the potential to enhance cutaneous regeneration, largely through trophic and paracrine activity. Candidate cell populations for therapeutic application include adult mesenchymal stem cells, embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Autologous cell-based approaches are ideal to minimize immune rejection but may be limited by the declining cellular function associated with aging. One strategy to overcome age-related impairments in various stem cell populations is to identify and enrich with functionally superior stem cell subsets via single cell transcriptomics. Another approach is to optimize cell delivery to the harsh environment of aged wounds via scaffold-based cell applications to enhance engraftment and paracrine activity of therapeutic stem cells. In this review, we shed light on challenges and recent advances surrounding stem cell therapies for wound healing and discuss limitations for their clinical adoption.

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