The interaction of stem cells and vascularity in peripheral nerve regeneration

Sara Saffari, Tiam M. Saffari, Dietmar J.O. Ulrich, Steven E.R. Hovius, Alexander Y. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The degree of nerve regeneration after peripheral nerve injury can be altered by the microenvironment at the site of injury. Stem cells and vascularity are postulated to be a part of a complex pathway that enhances peripheral nerve regeneration; however, their interaction remains unexplored. This review aims to summarize current knowledge on this interaction, including various mechanisms through which trophic factors are promoted by stem cells and angiogenesis. Angiogenesis after nerve injury is stimulated by hypoxia, mediated by vascular endothelial growth factor, resulting in the growth of pre-existing vessels into new areas. Modulation of distinct signaling pathways in stem cells can promote angiogenesis by the secretion of various angiogenic factors. Simultaneously, the importance of stem cells in peripheral nerve regeneration relies on their ability to promote myelin formation and their capacity to be influenced by the microenvironment to differentiate into Schwann-like cells. Stem cells can be acquired through various sources that correlate to their differentiation potential, including embryonic stem cells, neural stem cells, and mesenchymal stem cells. Each source of stem cells serves its particular differentiation potential and properties associated with the promotion of revascularization and nerve regeneration. Exosomes are a subtype of extracellular vesicles released from cell types and play an important role in cell-to-cell communication. Exosomes hold promise for future transplantation applications, as these vesicles contain fewer membrane-bound proteins, resulting in lower immunogenicity. This review presents pre-clinical and clinical studies that focus on selecting the ideal type of stem cell and optimizing stem cell delivery methods for potential translation to clinical practice. Future studies integrating stem cell-based therapies with the promotion of angiogenesis may elucidate the synergistic pathways and ultimately enhance nerve regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1510-1517
Number of pages8
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Schwann cells
  • angiogenesis
  • exosomes
  • nerve graft
  • nerve regeneration
  • peripheral nerve injury
  • revascularization
  • stem cell delivery
  • stem cells
  • vascularity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'The interaction of stem cells and vascularity in peripheral nerve regeneration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this