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J Neurosci. 2011 Apr 27;31(17):6379-91. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0129-11.2011.

Peripheral nervous system progenitors can be reprogrammed to produce myelinating oligodendrocytes and repair brain lesions.

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Department of Neurochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, D-60528 Frankfurt/Main, Germany.


Neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) give rise to the neurons and glia of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). NCSC-like cells can be isolated from multiple peripheral organs and maintained in neurosphere culture. Combining in vitro culture and transplantation, we show that expanded embryonic NCSC-like cells lose PNS traits and are reprogrammed to generate CNS cell types. When transplanted into the embryonic or adult mouse CNS, they differentiate predominantly into cells of the oligodendrocyte lineage without any signs of tumor formation. NCSC-derived oligodendrocytes generate CNS myelin and contribute to the repair of the myelin deficiency in shiverer mice. These results demonstrate a reprogramming of PNS progenitors to CNS fates without genetic modification and imply that PNS cells could be a potential source for cell-based CNS therapy.

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