White matter disorders (WMDs) are a major source of handicap at all ages. They often lead to progressive neurological dysfunction and early death. Although causes are highly diverse, WMDs share the property that glia (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes) are among the cells primarily affected, and that myelin is either not formed or lost. Many WMDs might benefit from cell replacement therapies. Successful preclinical studies in rodent models have already led to the first clinical trials in humans using glial or oligodendrocyte progenitor cells aiming at (re)myelination. However, myelin is usually not the only affected structure. Neurons, microglia, and astrocytes are often also affected and are all important partners in creating the right conditions for proper white matter repair. Composition of the extracellular environment is another factor to be considered. Cell transplantation therapies might therefore require inclusion of non-oligodendroglial cell types and target more than only myelin repair. WMD patients would likely benefit from multimodal therapy approaches involving stem cell transplantation and microenvironment-targeting strategies to alter the local environment to a more favorable state for cell replacement. Furthermore most proof-of-concept studies have been performed with human cells in rodent disease models. Since human glial cells show a larger regenerative capacity than their mouse counterparts in the host mouse brain, microenvironmental factors affecting white matter recovery might be overlooked in rodent studies. We would like to stress that cell replacement therapy is a highly promising therapeutic option for WMDs, but a receptive microenvironment is crucial
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)513-518
JournalJournal of Inherited Metabolic Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

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