Background: Normal skin pigmentation pattern is an extremely important component of the appearance of a person, as it can be a significant factor in the social context of any person. A condition known as vitiligo is caused by the death of melanocytes leading to pigmentation loss in the skin. This affects all races across the globe and sometimes leads to social avoidance as in some communities, it is stigmatized. Although there are different pathobiological processes suspected because of the different underlying causes of vitiligo, autoimmunity and oxidative stress are suspected to be the most probable ones.
Objective: In this review, we present an overview of the underlying mechanisms causing and developing the disease. Also, some of the most successful treatments along with the clinical applications of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) as a comprehensive approach for treating this condition will be covered.
Results: Autoreactive CD8+ T-cells are the primary suspect considered to be responsible for the destruction of melanocytes. Therefore, topical use of autoimmune inhibitors including those derived from MSCs, thanks to their immune-modulatory properties, have been reported to be successful in the promotion of repigmentation. MSCs can suppress the proliferation of CD8+T via the NKG2D pathway while inducing T-cell apoptosis. The use of pharmacological agents for reducing cellular oxidative stress with the help of topical application of antioxidants and growth factors also have been in use. Intravenous administration of MSCs has been shown to regulate the level of reactive oxidative species (ROS) in a mice model. Growth factors derived from platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) or from MSCs caused rapid tissue regeneration.
Conclusions: Finally, MSC therapy also has been shown to stimulate the mobilization of healthy melanocytes, leading to successful repigmentation of skin lesions in vitiligo patients.
Keywords: Melanocytes; immuno-modulation; mesenchymal stem cells; skin disease; stem cells therapy; vitiligo.