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Cell Transplant. 2010;19(1):89-101. doi: 10.3727/096368909X477273. Epub 2009 Oct 9.

Controlled release of neurotrophin-3 and platelet-derived growth factor from fibrin scaffolds containing neural progenitor cells enhances survival and differentiation into neurons in a subacute model of SCI.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.


A consistent problem with stem/neural progenitor cell transplantation following spinal cord injury (SCI) is poor cell survival and uncontrolled differentiation following transplantation. The current study evaluated the feasibility of enhancing embryonic stem cell-derived neural progenitor cell (ESNPC) viability and directing their differentiation into neurons and oligodendrocytes by embedding the ESNPCs in fibrin scaffolds containing growth factors (GF) and a heparin-binding delivery system (HBDS) in a subacute rat model of SCI. Mouse ESNPCs were generated from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) using a 4-/4+ retinoic acid (RA) induction protocol. The ESNPCs were then transplanted as embryoid bodies (EBs, 70% neural progenitor cells) into the subacute model of SCI. ESNPCs (10 EBs per animal) were implanted directly into the SCI lesion, encapsulated in fibrin scaffolds, encapsulated in fibrin scaffolds containing the HBDS, neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), or encapsulated in fibrin scaffolds with NT-3 and PDGF with no HBDS. We report here that the combination of the NT-3, PDGF, and fibrin scaffold (with or without HBDS) enhanced the total number of ESNPCs present in the spinal cord lesion 2 weeks after injury. In addition, the inclusion of the HBDS with growth factor resulted in an increase in the number of ESNPC-derived NeuN-positive neurons. These results demonstrate the ability of fibrin scaffolds and the controlled release of growth factors to enhance the survival and differentiation of neural progenitor cells following transplantation into a SCI model.

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