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In ischemic stroke, the third most frequent cause of mortality in industrialized countries, therapeutic options have until now been limited to the first hours after disease onset. Cell transplantation has emerged in various neurological disorders, including experimental stroke, as a successful recovery-promoting approach also in the post-acute stroke phase. However, before envisaging any translation into humans of such promising cell-based approaches we still need to clarify: (i) the ideal cell source for transplantation, (ii) the most appropriate route of cell administration, and, last but not least, (iii) the best approach to achieve an appropriate and functional integration of transplanted cells into the host tissue. Here we discuss, with special emphasis on neural stem/precursor cells, potential mechanisms that may be involved in the action of cell-based therapies in stroke.
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich (USZ), Frauenklinikstr, 26, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland.