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Cell Transplant. 2009;18(1):55-68.

Retentive multipotency of adult dorsal root ganglia stem cells.

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Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Preservation of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult peripheral nervous system (PNS) has recently been confirmed. However, it is not clear whether peripheral NSCs possess predestined, bona fide phenotypes or a response to innate developmental cues. In this study, we first demonstrated the longevity, multipotency, and high fidelity of sensory features of postmigrating adult dorsal root ganglia (aDRG) stem cells. Derived from aDRG and after 4-5 years in culture without dissociating, the aDRG NSCs were found capable of proliferation, expressing neuroepithelial, neuronal, and glial markers. Remarkably, these aDRG NSCs expressed sensory neuronal markers vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2--glutamate terminals), transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TrpV1--capsaicin sensitive), phosphorylated 200 kDa neurofilaments (pNF200--capsaicin insensitive, myelinated), and the serotonin transporter (5-HTT), which normally is transiently expressed in developing DRG. Furthermore, in response to neurotrophins, the aDRG NSCs enhanced TrpV1 expression upon exposure to nerve growth factor (NGF), but not to brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). On the contrary, BDNF increased the expression of NeuN. Third, the characterization of aDRG NSCs was demonstrated by transplantation of red fluorescent-expressing aDRG NSCs into injured spinal cord. These cells expressed nestin, Hu, and beta-III-tubulin (immature neuronal markers), GFAP (astrocyte marker) as well as sensory neural marker TrpV1 (capsaicin sensitive) and pNF200 (mature, capsaicin insensitive, myelinated). Our results demonstrated that the postmigrating neural crest adult DRG stem cells not only preserved their multipotency but also were retentive in sensory potency despite the age and long-term ex vivo status.

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