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TrkC Overexpression Enhances Survival and Migration of Neural Stem Cell Transplants in the Rat Spinal Cord

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Although CNS axons have the capacity to regenerate after spinal cord injury when provided with a permissive substrate, the lack of appropriate synaptic target sites for regenerating fibers may limit restoration of spinal circuitry. Studies in our laboratory are focused on utilizing neural stem cells to provide new synaptic target sites for regenerating spinal axons following injury. As an initial step, rat neural precursor cells genetically engineered to overexpress the tyrosine kinase C (trkC) neurotrophin receptor were transplanted into the intact rat spinal cord to evaluate their survival and differentiation. Cells were either pretreated in vitro prior to transplantation with trkC ligand neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) to initiate differentiation or exposed to NT-3 in vivo following transplantation via gelfoam or Oxycel ©. Both treatments enhanced survival of trkC-overexpressing stem cells to nearly 100%, in comparison with approximately 30–50% when either NT-3 or trkC was omitted. In addition, increased migration of trkC-overexpressing cells throughout the spinal gray matter was noted, particularly following in vivo NT-3 exposure. The combined trkC expression and NT-3 treatment appeared to reduce astrocytic differentiation of transplanted neural precursors. Decreased cavitation and increased β-tubulin fibers were noted in the vicinity of transplanted cells, although the majority of transplanted cells appeared to remain in an undifferentiated state. These findings suggest that genetically engineered neural stem cells in combination with neurotrophin treatment may be a useful addition to strategies for repair of spinal neurocircuitry following injury.

Keywords: Key words: Neural transplantation; Neural precurso

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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