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Stem Cells International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 262438, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/262438
Review Article

Perspectives on the Use of Stem Cells for Autism Treatment

1Department of Experimental Medicine, Second University of Naples, Via S. Maria di Costantinopoli, 16-80138 Napoli, Italy
2Centre for Autism, La Forza del Silenzio, 81036 Caserta, Italy
3Cancellautismo, 50132 Florence, Italy
4International Child Development Resource Center, Chateau Élan, Braselton, GA 30517, USA
5Clinical Department, Cell Therapy Center EmCell, Kiev 04073, Ukraine
6Biomedical Centre for Autism Research and Treatment, 70126 Bari, Italy

Received 10 May 2013; Revised 22 August 2013; Accepted 6 September 2013

Academic Editor: Chen Lin

Copyright © 2013 Dario Siniscalco et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are complex neurodevelopmental disorders. ASDs are clinically defined by deficits in communication, social skills, and repetitive and/or restrictive interests and behaviours. With the prevalence rates for ASDs rapidly increasing, the need for effective therapies for autism is a priority for biomedical research. Currently available medications do not target the core symptoms, can have markedly adverse side-effects, and are mainly palliative for negative behaviours. The development of molecular and regenerative interventions is progressing rapidly, and medicine holds great expectations for stem cell therapies. Cells could be designed to target the observed molecular mechanisms of ASDs, that is, abnormal neurotransmitter regulation, activated microglia, mitochondrial dysfunction, blood-brain barrier disruptions, and chronic intestinal inflammation. Presently, the paracrine, secretome, and immunomodulatory effects of stem cells would appear to be the likely mechanisms of application for ASD therapeutics. This review will focus on the potential use of the various types of stem cells: embryonic, induced pluripotential, fetal, and adult stem cells as targets for ASD therapeutics.