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Brain. 2007 May;130(Pt 5):1289-305. Epub 2007 Apr 17.

Neural stem cells LewisX+ CXCR4+ modify disease progression in an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis model.

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Dino Ferrari Centre, Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Milan, IRCCS Foundation Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli and Regina Elena, Milan, Italy.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurological disease characterized by the degeneration of the motor neurons. We tested whether treatment of superoxide dismutase (SOD1)-G93A transgenic mouse, a model of ALS, with a neural stem cell subpopulation double positive for Lewis X and the chemokine receptor CXCR4 (LeX+CXCR4+) can modify the disease's progression. In vitro, after exposure to morphogenetic stimuli, LeX+CXCR4+ cells generate cholinergic motor neuron-like cells upon differentiation. LeX+CXCR4+ cells deriving from mice expressing Green Fluorescent Protein in all tissues or only in motor neurons, after a period of priming in vitro, were grafted into spinal cord of SOD1-G93A mice. Transplanted transgenic mice exhibited a delayed disease onset and progression, and survived significantly longer than non-treated animals by 23 days. Examination of the spinal cord revealed integration of donor-derived cells that differentiated mostly in neurons and in a lower proportion in motor neuron-like cells. Quantification of motor neurons of the spinal cord suggests a significant neuroprotection by LeX+CXCR4+ cells. Both VEGF- and IGF1-dependent pathways were significantly modulated in transplanted animals compared to controls, suggesting a role of these neurotrophins in MN protection. Our results support the therapeutic potential of neural stem cell fractions through both neurogenesis and growth factors release in motor neuron disorders.

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