Currently available effective treatments of the diseased or damaged central nervous system (CNS) are restricted to a limited pharmacological relief of symptoms or those given to avoid further damage. Therefore the search is on for treatments that can restore function in the CNS. During recent years replacement of damaged neurons by cell transplantation is being enthusiastically explored as a potential treatment for many neurodegenerative diseases, stroke and traumatic brain injury. Several references in both scientific journals and popular newspapers concerning different types of cultured stem cells, potentially exploitable to treat pathological conditions of the brain, raise important questions pertinent to the fundamental and realistic differences between grafts of primary neural cells and the transplantation of in vitro expanded neural stem cells (NSCs). Our aim is to review the available information on the grafting of different NSC types into the adult rodent brain, focusing on critical aspects for the development of clinical therapies to replace damaged neurons.
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