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Stem Cells. 2006 Jan;24(1):115-24. Epub 2005 Aug 11.

Conversion of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in Wharton's jelly to dopaminergic neurons in vitro: potential therapeutic application for Parkinsonism.

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  • 1155 Sec. 2, Li-Nung Street, 112, Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Human mesenchymal stem cells isolated from Wharton's jelly of the umbilical cord were induced to transform into dopaminergic neurons in vitro through stepwise culturing in neuron-conditioned medium, sonic hedgehog, and FGF8. The success rate was 12.7%, as characterized by positive staining for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting catecholaminergic synthesizing enzyme, and dopamine being released into the culture medium. Transplantation of such cells into the striatum of rats previously made Parkinsonian by unilateral striatal lesioning with the dopaminergic neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine partially corrected the lesion-induced amphetamine-evoked rotation. Viability of the transplanted cells at least 4 months after transplantation was identified by positive TH staining and migration of 1.4 mm both rostrally and caudally. These results suggest that human umbilical mesenchymal stem cells have the potential for treatment of Parkinson's disease.

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