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Biomaterials. 2013 Jul;34(22):5521-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.03.095. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

The survival of engrafted neural stem cells within hyaluronic acid hydrogels.

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Russell H. Morgan Dept. of Radiology and Radiological Science, Division of MR Research, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Successful cell-based therapy of neurological disorders is highly dependent on the survival of transplanted stem cells, with the overall graft survival of naked, unprotected cells in general remaining poor. We investigated the use of an injectable hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogel for enhancement of survival of transplanted mouse C17.2 cells, human neural progenitor cells (ReNcells), and human glial-restricted precursors (GRPs). The gelation properties of the HA hydrogel were first characterized and optimized for intracerebral injection, resulting in a 25 min delayed-injection after mixing of the hydrogel components. Using bioluminescence imaging (BLI) as a non-invasive readout of cell survival, we found that the hydrogel can protect xenografted cells as evidenced by the prolonged survival of C17.2 cells implanted in immunocompetent rats (p < 0.01 at day 12). The survival of human ReNcells and human GRPs implanted in the brain of immunocompetent or immunodeficient mice was also significantly improved after hydrogel scaffolding (ReNcells, p < 0.05 at day 5; GRPs, p < 0.05 at day 7). However, an inflammatory response could be noted two weeks after injection of hydrogel into immunocompetent mice brains. We conclude that hydrogel scaffolding increases the survival of engrafted neural stem cells, justifying further optimization of hydrogel compositions.

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