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Long-Term Survival, Robust Neuronal Differentiation, and Extensive Migration of Human Forebrain Stem/Progenitor Cells Transplanted to the Adult Rat Dorsal Root Ganglion Cavity

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Neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) transmit sensory information from peripheral tissues to the spinal cord. This pathway can be interrupted, for example, as the result of physical violence, traffic accidents, or complications during child delivery. As a consequence, the patient permanently loses sensation and often develops intractable neuropathic pain in the denervated area. Here we investigate whether human neural stem/progenitor cells (hNSPCs) transplanted to the DRG cavity can serve as a source for repairing lost peripheral sensory connections. We found that hNSPCs robustly differentiate to neurons, which survive long-term transplantation. The neuronal population in the transplants was tightly surrounded by astrocytes, suggesting their active role in neuron survival. Furthermore, 3 months after grafting hNSPCs were found in the dorsal root transitional zone (DRTZ) and within the spinal cord. The level of differentiation of transplanted cells was high in the core of the transplants whereas cells that migrated to the DRTZ and spinal cord were undifferentiated, nestin-expressing precursors. These data indicate that peripherally transplanted hNPSCs can be used for repair of dorsal root avulsion or spinal cord injuries; however, additional factors are required to guide their differentiation to the desired type of neurons. Furthermore, hNPSCs that migrate from the DRG cavity graft site to the DRTZ and spinal cord may provide trophic support for regenerating dorsal root axons, thereby allowing them to reenter the host spinal cord.

Keywords: Cell migration; Neural stem cell; Neuronal degeneration; Neuronal regeneration; Plasticity; Sensory neuron

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2008

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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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