Published online Nov 26, 2019. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v11.i11.904
Peer-review started: March 22, 2019
First decision: August 1, 2019
Revised: August 10, 2019
Accepted: September 13, 2019
Article in press: September 13, 2019
Published online: November 26, 2019
Both parasitology and stem cell research are important disciplines in their own right. Parasites are a real threat to human health causing a broad spectrum of diseases and significant annual rates morbidity and mortality globally. Stem cell research, on the other hand, focuses on the potential for regenerative medicine for a range of diseases including cancer and regenerative therapies. Though these two topics might appear distant, there are some “unexpected encounters”. In this review, we summarise the various links between parasites and stem cells. First, we discuss how parasites’ own stem cells represent interesting models of regeneration that can be translated to human stem cell regeneration. Second, we explore the interactions between parasites and host stem cells during the course of infection. Third, we investigate from a clinical perspective, how stem cell regeneration can be exploited to help circumvent the damage induced by parasitic infection and its potential to serve as treatment options for parasitic diseases in the future. Finally, we discuss the importance of screening for pathogens during organ transplantation by presenting some clinical cases of parasitic infection following stem cell therapy.
Core tip: The aim of this review was to bring together two important research disciplines: parasitology and stem cell biology. Parasites are the caustic agents of numerous diseases that have a huge impact on human health. The regeneration properties of stem cells are remarkable and the exploitation of such biology for clinical applications is an exciting area of research that may provide future treatment options for a wide range of human diseases. These apparently independent fields of research have multiple areas of overlap which we cover highlighting that these interactions, particularly from a clinical perspective, should be more seriously considered and studied.