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Int J Stem Cells. 2019 Jul 31;12(2):331-339. doi: 10.15283/ijsc18133.

Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation Promotes Functional Recovery through MMP2/STAT3 Related Astrogliosis after Spinal Cord Injury.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea.
Divisions of Applied Animal Science and Animal Resource Science, Department of Animal Life Science, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Korea.
Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea.
Department of Neurosurgery, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Background and Objectives:

Treatment with mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in spinal cord injury (SCI) has been highlighted as therapeutic candidate for SCI. Although astrogliosis is a major phenomenon after SCI, the role of astrogliosis is still controversial. In this study, we determined whether acute transplantation of MSC improves the outcome of SCI through modulating astrogliosis.


Bone marrow derived rat MSCs were induced neural differentiation and transplanted after acute SCI rats. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and neuro-inflammatory pathway were analyzed for acute astrogliosis at 1, 3 and 7 d after SCI in RT-PCR- and western blot analysis. Functional outcome was assessed serially at postoperative 1 d and weekly for 4 weeks. Histopathologic analysis was undertaken at 7 and 28 d following injury in immunohistochemistry.


Transplantation of MSCs decreased IL-1α, CXCL-2, CXCL-10, TNF-α and TGF-β in a rat model of contusive SCI. Protein level of NF-κB p65 was slightly decreased while level of STAT-3 was increased. In immunohistochemistry, MSC transplantation increased acute astrogliosis whereas attenuated scar formation with increased sparing white matter of spinal cord lesions. In RT-PCR analysis, mRNA levels of MMP2 was significantly increased in MSC transplanted rats. In BBB locomotor scale, the rats of MSC treated group exhibited improvement of functional recovery.


Transplantation of MSC reduces the inflammatory reaction and modulates astrogliosis via MMP2/STAT3 pathway leading to improve functional recovery after SCI in rats.


Astrogliosis; MMP2; MSC transplantation; STAT3; Spinal cord injury

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