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Biomaterials. 2013 Apr;34(12):2888-901. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.12.046. Epub 2013 Jan 27.

The integration of NSC-derived and host neural networks after rat spinal cord transection.

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Key Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University, Ministry of Education, Guangzhou 510080, China.


Rebuilding structures that can bridge the injury gap and enable signal connection remains a challenging issue in spinal cord injury. We sought to determine if genetically enhanced expression of TrkC in neural stem cells (NSCs) and neurotrophin-3 in Schwann cells (SCs) co-cultured in a gelatin sponge scaffold could constitute a neural network, and whether it could act as a relay to rebuilt signal connection after spinal cord transection. Indeed, many NSCs in the scaffold assumed neuronal features including formation of synapses. By whole-cell patch clamp, the synapses associated with NSC-derived neurons were excitable. Grafting of the scaffold with differentiating NSCs + SCs into rats with a segment of the spinal cord removed had resulted in a significant functional recovery of the paralyzed hind-limbs. Remarkably, the NSC-derived neurons formed new synaptic contacts suggesting that the scaffold can form a relay for conduction of signals through the injury gap of spinal cord.

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