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Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2010;28(6):761-7. doi: 10.3233/RNN-2010-0547.

Survival of neurally induced mesenchymal cells may determine degree of motor recovery in injured spinal cord rats.

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  • 1Neuroscience Research Labs, Deptpartment of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, VAMC, Milwaukee, WI 53295, USA.



We recently developed a new method for efficient generation of neural-like cells from mice bone marrow (BM)-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) by exposing MSCs to epigenetic modifiers and a neural stem cell environment. These neurally induced MSCs (NI-MSCs) differentiate into neuronal- and glial-like cells in vitro, release neurotrophic factors NGF and BDNF, survive and integrate after transplantation in intact spinal cord. The aim of this study was to determine whether transplanted NI-MSCs survive, differentiate, and integrate in injured spinal cord (ISC) rats and promote functional recovery.


Twenty rats, half grafted with MSCs and half with NI-MSCs, were used for survival and differentiation studies. Results were analyzed using triple-labeled immunohistochemistry. For motor function studies the 3 group of adult female Sprague Dawley rats received PBS (vehicle), MSCs, or NI-MSCs, respectively. Functional outcome was measured using the BBB scale.


Results demonstrated gradual improvement of locomotor function in NI-MSC-transplanted rats in comparison to vehicle and non-modified MSC-transplanted animals, with statistically significant differences at 7, 14, and 21 days post transplantation. Immunocytochemical studies revealed poor survival of NI-MSCs within the ISC as early as 3 weeks after transplantation.


Thus, there is a correlation between the degree of surviving NI-MSCs and extent of functional recovery.

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