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Open Access Differentiation of Chromaffin Progenitor Cells to Dopaminergic Neurons

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The differentiation of dopamine-producing neurons from chromaffin progenitors might represent a new valuable source for replacement therapies in Parkinson's disease. However, characterization of their differentiation potential is an important prerequisite for efficient engraftment. Based on our previous studies on isolation and characterization of chromaffin progenitors from adult adrenals, this study investigates their potential to produce dopaminergic neurons and means to enhance their dopaminergic differentiation. Chromaffin progenitors grown in sphere culture showed an increased expression of nestin and Mash1, indicating an increase of the progenitor subset. Proneurogenic culture conditions induced the differentiation into neurons positive for neural markers β-III-tubulin, MAP2, and TH accompanied by a decrease of Mash1 and nestin. Furthermore, Notch2 expression decreased concomitantly with a downregulation of downstream effectors Hes1 and Hes5 responsible for self-renewal and proliferation maintenance of progenitor cells. Chromaffin progenitor-derived neurons secreted dopamine upon stimulation by potassium. Strikingly, treatment of differentiating cells with retinoic and ascorbic acid resulted in a twofold increase of dopamine secretion while norepinephrine and epinephrine were decreased. Initiation of dopamine synthesis and neural maturation is controlled by Pitx3 and Nurr1. Both Pitx3 and Nurr1 were identified in differentiating chromaffin progenitors. Along with the gained dopaminergic function, electrophysiology revealed features of mature neurons, such as sodium channels and the capability to fire multiple action potentials. In summary, this study elucidates the capacity of chromaffin progenitor cells to generate functional dopaminergic neurons, indicating their potential use in cell replacement therapies.
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Keywords: Ascorbic acid; Chromaffin progenitors; Neural differentiation; Parkinson's disease; Retinoic acid; Transplantation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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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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