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Stem Cells Dev. 2012 Jul 20;21(11):1831-7. doi: 10.1089/scd.2011.0494. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Human fetal oligodendrocyte progenitor cells from different gestational stages exhibit substantially different potential to myelinate.

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Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Québec, Canada.


To investigate age-related intrinsic regulation of the capacity of human fetal oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) to myelinate, potential OPCs were selected from 15- to 23-gestational-week (gw) human fetal brain tissue based on the expression of gangliosides--recognized with the monoclonal antibody A2B5, which detects multipotent cells including OPCs--or platelet-derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRα), an early marker of the oligodendroglial lineage. Cells were either cultured alone or cocultured with rat dorsal root ganglia neurons (DRGNs). When cultured alone, both the A2B5- and PDGFRα-selected cells exhibited age-dependent increases in early to mid-stage lineage markers, including sulfatides (O4 antibody) and the transcription factor Olig2, while the cell death rate correlated negatively with age. In coculture with neurons, cells also expressed the myelin components galactocerebroside (GC) and myelin basic protein (MBP), and ensheathed axons. In DRGN cocultures, A2B5+ cells derived from >19 gw produced more GC+/MBP+ cells compared with the 15-17-week cells. The number of GC+ cells making axonal contacts, and ensheathing axonal segments per cell increased proportionally to gestational age. This age-dependent difference in GC/MBP cell number and capacity to ensheath axons persisted when PDGFRα selection was used to enrich for the number of OPCs in cultures derived from younger ages. Addition of the growth factors brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) enhanced OPC differentiation under all conditions. These findings indicate that intrinsic regulatory mechanisms associated with the chronological age of the donor cells are key variables to assess when considering the myelination capacity of OPCs for cellular replacement therapy.

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