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J Biomed Sci. 2004 Sep-Oct;11(5):652-60.

Transformation of human umbilical mesenchymal cells into neurons in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.


Neuronal transplantation has provided a promising approach for treating neurodegenerative diseases. Recently, efforts have been directed at in vitro induction of various stem cells to transform into neurons. We report the first successful quantities in an in vitro attempt at directing the transformation into neurons of human umbilical mesenchymal cells, which are capable of rapid proliferation in vitro and are easily available. When cultured in neuronal conditioned medium, human umbilical mesenchymal cells started to express neuron-specific proteins such as NeuN and neurofilament (NF) on the 3rd day and exhibited retraction of the cell body, elaboration of processes, clustering of cells and expression of functional mRNA responsible for the synthesis of subunits of the kainate receptor and glutamate decarboxylase on the 6th day. Between the 9th and 12th days, the percentage of human umbilical mesenchymal cells expressing NF was as high as 87%, while functionality was demonstrated by glutamate invoking an inward current. At this stage, cells were differentiated into mature neurons in the post mitosis phase.

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