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Exp Neurol. 2001 Sep;171(1):11-21.

Embryonic-derived glial-restricted precursor cells (GRP cells) can differentiate into astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in vivo.

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  • 1Keck Center for Tissue Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.


We have isolated and characterized a unique glial-restricted precursor cell (GRP) from the embryonic spinal cord. Clonal analysis demonstrated that these cells are able to generate oligodendrocytes and two distinct type of astrocytes (type 1 and type 2) when exposed to appropriate signals in vitro. We now show that many aspects of these cells are retained in vivo. GRP cells are restricted to the glial lineage in vivo as they seem to be unable to generate neuronal phenotypes in an in vivo neurogenic environment. GRP cells survive and migrate in the neonatal and adult brain. Transplanted GRP cells differentiate into myelin-forming oligodendrocytes in a myelin-deficient background and also generate immature oligodendrocytes in the normal neonatal brain. In addition, GRP cells also consistently generated glial fibrillary protein-expressing cells in the neonatal and adult brain, a property not consistently expressed by other glial precursor cells like the O-2A/OPC cells. We suggest that the lineage restriction of GRP cells and their ability to generate both oligodendrocytes and astrocytes in vivo together with their embryonic character that allows for extensive in vitro expansion of the population makes the cell useful for clinical application.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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