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J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:820821. doi: 10.1155/2012/820821. Epub 2012 Oct 9.

Expression of neural markers by undifferentiated rat mesenchymal stem cells.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Neuroscienze e Tecnologie Biomediche, Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Via Cadore 48, 20052 Monza, Italy.

Abstract

The spontaneous expression of neural markers by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has been considered to be a demonstration of MSCs' predisposition to differentiate towards neural lineages. In view of their application in cell therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, it is very important to deepen the knowledge about this distinctive biological property of MSCs. In this study, we evaluated the expression of neuronal and glial markers in undifferentiated rat MSCs (rMSCs) at different culture passages (from early to late). rMSCs spontaneously expressed neural markers depending on culture passage, and they were coexpressed or not with the neural progenitor marker nestin. In contrast, the number of rMSCs expressing mesengenic differentiation markers was very low or even completely absent. Moreover, rMSCs at late culture passages were not senescent cells and maintained the MSC immunophenotype. However, their differentiation capabilities were altered. In conclusion, our results support the concept of MSCs as multidifferentiated cells and suggest the existence of immature and mature neurally fated rMSC subpopulations. A possible correlation between specific MSC subpopulations and specific neural lineages could optimize the use of MSCs in cell transplantation therapy for the treatment of neurological diseases.

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