Benefits And Side Effects Of Stem Cell Therapy For Autism

Stem Cells Were Used For Growing & 3D Printing Functional Hearts

In this article;

  • What is Autism?
  • Stem Cell Treatment and Autism
  • How do Stem Cells Help for the Treatment of Autism?
  • Benefits of Stem Cell for Autism
    • Fetal Stem Cells (FSCs)
    • Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)
    • Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs)
  • What Can You Expect from Stem Cell Autism Recovery?
  • Are There Any Side Effects For Stem Cells Autism?
  • The Bottom Line

Stem cell therapy for autism treatment is an ongoing debate. Many successful experiments have proved it a potential cure. However, further studies are underway to explore the role of stem cell treatment for autism. The purpose of this article is to have an overview of the benefits and possible side effects of different types of stem cells (especially mononuclear cells from cord blood and mesenchymal stromal cells from cord tissue) used for autism stem cell treatment in various regenerative medicine clinics around the world. By the end of this article, you will understand more about stem cell therapy for autism, about the possible improvements and risks.

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder, abbreviated as ASD, is a neurological and developmental disorder that manifests with communication problems accompanied by rigid, repetitive behavioral patterns. It usually develops in the first two years after child’s birth and continues throughout a person’s life. Children with autism are noticed to have dysfunctional immune activity and neuroinflammation in the brain.

According to the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, every 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with ASD. The exact cause of this shocking prevalence of autism is unknown. The most important risk factors for autism include environmental toxins, heavy metals, and metabolic imbalance. There is also some evidence of the genetic predisposition of autism.


alt. Stem cell therapy for autism relieves the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Stem Cell Treatment and Autism

Many parents don’t realize that their children are suffering from autism. They don’t consider them sick and worthy of proper treatment. This unawareness results in the stubborn attitude of parents towards clinics offering stem cell treatments. Negative view and underestimation of the potential improvements associated with stem cell therapy do not allow some parents to believe it to be effective.

Nevertheless, stem cells have proven to be a promising candidate for treating several neurological disorders, owing to their self-renewal capacity, multi-directional differentiation, neurotrophic properties, and immune modulation effects. That’s the reason why autism stem cell treatment has been successful in many cases.

Clinical trials have proved that autologous cord blood infusions are safe and feasible in young children with ASD. The transplantation of human cord mononuclear cells and umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells has been shown to provide a stem cell autism cure.

How do Stem Cells Help for the Treatment of Autism?

 The immunomodulatory capacity of stem cells decreases the severity of symptoms associated with ASD. Stem cells also restore the impaired neuronal connections, thus improving the synaptic transmission of nerve impulses. Following are three different underlying mechanisms by which stem cells address ASD-mediated immune and inflammatory abnormalities and help in the relieving of autism symptoms;

1.     When given intravenously, the stem cells improve the functional immune activity. They inhibit pro-inflammatory(inflammation-causing) factors and increase the anti-inflammatory (inflammation-inhibitting) molecules levels. The research also finds that stem cells can switch pro-inflammatory cells into anti-inflammatory ones, which further reduces the risk of inflammation.

2.     Another mechanism of stem cell for autism is to form new neural connections in the brain by secreting various neurotrophic factors. These factors stimulate neurite outgrowth and protect neurons against ischemic injury through a paracrine mechanism. In this way, they replace the damaged neurons and promote angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) in the brain. 

3.     The stem cells induce changes in brain structural connectivity, which improves the restricted behavioral patterns in ASD. These white matter tract changes {increased white matter connectivity in frontal, temporal, and subcortical regions (hippocampus and basal ganglia)} support social, communication, and language problems in children with autism.

Benefits of Stem Cell for Autism

 The scientific rationale behind using stem cells for the treatment of ASDs makes it beneficial. Medical experts discovered different types of stem cells for autism. This section will explore the therapeutic effects of various kinds of stem cells to cure autism.

Fetal Stem Cells (FSCs)

 Neural stem cells from the fetal brain can differentiate into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. This ability to self-renew and being multipotent makes these successful for treating neurodegenerative disorders.

FSCs have been used successfully for the treatment of ASDs. They secrete various neurotrophic factors that facilitate the formation of the neuronal network. They also suppress the action of pro-inflammatory cytokine molecules to improve autistic symptoms.

An open-labeled pilot study proved the safety and efficacy of fetal stem cell transplantation in autistic children. The results mentioned that there were no significant adverse effects, transmitted infections, or immunological complications.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)

Mesenchymal stem cells, obtained from bone marrow or umbilical cord, possess certain immunological properties, making them potential candidates for autism treatment. The clinical studies published to date have promising results to apply MSC therapy for several neurodegenerative disorders.

They stimulate the repair of damaged tissue, release anti-inflammatory cytokines and survival-promoting growth factors, and restore the brain’s neural plasticity. These characteristics make MSCs probably the best option to provide better resolution for ASDs. Also, they are not related to ethical issues, unlike, for example, fetal stem cells.

The studies justify that MSCs show statistically significant improvement in treating children with autism. They are also reported to have an excellent safety record, without any clinically significant side effects. The chances of transplant rejection are usually very low with MSCs.

 Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs)

 These types of stem cells have a substantial therapeutic role in autism-spectrum disorder-related inflammation due to their paracrine activity. They control chronic inflammation and restore immunological balance, which makes them extremely beneficial in ASD therapy.

What Can You Expect from Stem Cell Autism Recovery?

Depending upon the successful procedures of stem cell therapy for autism at various centers of regenerative medicine such as Swiss Medica, you can expect the following improvements in autistic children within weeks and months after the therapy;

  •  Improved gastrointestinal tolerance
  • Confident social interactions
  •  Positive behavioral changes (fewer mood swings and enhanced listening)
  •  Expressive non-verbal communication skills (especially improved eye contact while   communicating)
  •   Improved learning abilities
  •   Better sleep patterns
  •  Reduced phobias
  •  Enhanced attention spans
  •   Reduced hyperactivity
  •   Decreased shyness
  •  Improved speech


alt. Stem cell therapy helps correct the signs of autism.

Are There Any Side Effects For Stem Cells Autism?

Like any other medical procedure, stem cell therapy for autism does have its risks. But fortunately, the side effects are not that significant. Not a single life-threatening complication has been reported. Some patients may have an adverse reaction, such as fever after receiving an injection, but that’s manageable.
Since MSCs are immune-evasive, most of the patients do not develop antibodies against the donor. These antibodies usually exist at a very low level that doesn’t cause any symptoms. 

The reaction to ‘foreign’ (allogeneic) stem cells may be acute. Patients usually experience a slight rise in body temperature (short-term fever), accompanied by either shivering or sweating. These non-fatal symptoms automatically resolve within half an hour to a maximum of three hours.

If the procedure is carried out correctly, the most serious adverse effect that could occur is the lack of improvement in the patient’s condition. Some patients may not get the expected results and regret the sums spent in vain. But it is something that manifests differently from person-to-person. Stem cell therapy is the procedure that does not guarantee 100% results for everyone.

The Bottom Line

To summarize the research done up till now for stem cell therapy for autism, it is to conclude that this procedure has almost negligible side effects and many proven benefits.

Parents can take advantage of stem cell-based therapies to improve their children’s quality of life and social interaction, to overcome the communication and behavioral issues in autistic individuals. The cost of stem cell therapy for autism may be expensive, but the results are worth it.

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