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Open Access Transplantation of Undifferentiated Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Protects Against 6-Hydroxydopamine Neurotoxicity in the Rat

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Stem cells have been increasingly recognized as a potential tool to replace or support cells damaged by the neurodegenerative process that underlies Parkinson's disease (PD). In this frame, human adult mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) have been proposed as an attractive alternative to heterologous embryonic or neural precursor cells. To address this issue, in this study we implanted undifferentiated hMSCs into the striatum of rats bearing a lesion of the nigrostriatal pathway induced by local injection of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), a widely recognized rodent model of PD. Before grafting, cultured hMSCs expressed markers of both undifferentiated and committed neural cells, including nestin, GAP-43, NSE, -tubulin III, and MAP-2, as well as several cytokine mRNAs. No glial or specific neuronal markers were detected. Following transplantation, some hMSCs acquired a glial-like phenotype, as shown by immunoreactivity for glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP), but only in animals bearing the nigrostriatal lesion. More importantly, rats that received the striatal graft showed increased survival of both cell bodies and terminals of dopaminergic, nigrostriatal neurons, coupled with a reduction of the behavioral abnormalities (apomorphine-induced turning behavior) associated with the lesion. No differentiation of the MSCs toward a neuronal (dopaminergic) phenotype was observed in vivo. In conclusion, our results suggest that grafted hMSCs exert neuroprotective effects against nigrostriatal degeneration induced by 6-OHDA. The mechanisms underlying this effect remain to be clarified, although it is likely that the acquisition of a glial phenotype by grafted hMSCs may lead to the release of prosurvival cytokines within the lesioned striatum.

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Keywords: 6-Hydroxydopamine; Cytokines; Graft; Neuroprotection; Rat; Striatum; Substantia nigra

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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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.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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