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Open Access Systematic Review of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Technology as a Potential Clinical Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury

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Transplantation therapies aimed at repairing neurodegenerative and neuropathological conditions of the central nervous system (CNS) have utilized and tested a variety of cell candidates, each with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. The use and popularity of each cell type is guided by a number of factors including the nature of the experimental model, neuroprotection capacity, the ability to promote plasticity and guided axonal growth, and the cells’ myelination capability. The promise of stem cells, with their reported ability to give rise to neuronal lineages to replace lost endogenous cells and myelin, integrate into host tissue, restore functional connectivity, and provide trophic support to enhance and direct intrinsic regenerative ability, has been seen as a most encouraging step forward. The advent of the induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC), which represents the ability to “reprogram” somatic cells into a pluripotent state, hails the arrival of a new cell transplantation candidate for potential clinical application in therapies designed to promote repair and/or regeneration of the CNS. Since the initial development of iPSC technology, these cells have been extensively characterized in vitro and in a number of pathological conditions and were originally reported to be equivalent to embryonic stem cells (ESCs). This review highlights emerging evidence that suggests iPSCs are not necessarily indistinguishable from ESCs and may occupy a different “state” of pluripotency with differences in gene expression, methylation patterns, and genomic aberrations, which may reflect incomplete reprogramming and may therefore impact on the regenerative potential of these donor cells in therapies. It also highlights the limitations of current technologies used to generate these cells. Moreover, we provide a systematic review of the state of play with regard to the use of iPSCs in the treatment of neurodegenerative and neuropathological conditions. The importance of balancing the promise of this transplantation candidate in the light of these emerging properties is crucial as the potential application in the clinical setting approaches. The first of three sections in this review discusses (A) the pathophysiology of spinal cord injury (SCI) and how stem cell therapies can positively alter the pathology in experimental SCI. Part B summarizes (i) the available technologies to deliver transgenes to generate iPSCs and (ii) recent data comparing iPSCs to ESCs in terms of characteristics and molecular composition. Lastly, in (C) we evaluate iPSC-based therapies as a candidate to treat SCI on the basis of their neurite induction capability compared to embryonic stem cells and provide a summary of available in vivo data of iPSCs used in SCI and other disease models.
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Keywords: Induced pluripotency; Regeneration; Replacement; Spinal cord; Stem cell therapy; Trophic support

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Spinal Cord Repair Laboratory, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia

Publication date: 2013-04-01

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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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