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Open Access Targeted Cell Reprogramming Produces Analgesic Chromaffin-Like Cells From Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells

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Transplantation of allogeneic adrenal chromaffin cells demonstrated the promise of favorable outcomes for pain relief in patients. However, there is a very limited availability of suitable human adrenal gland tissues, genetically well-matched donors in particular, to serve as grafts. Xenogeneic materials, such as porcine and bovine adrenal chromaffin cells, present problems; for instance, immune rejection and possible pathogenic contamination are potential issues. To overcome these challenges, we have tested the novel approach of cell reprogramming to reprogram human bone marrow (BM)-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) using cellular extracts of porcine chromaffin cells. We produced a new type of cell, chromaffin-like cells, generated from the reprogrammed hMSCs, which displayed a significant increase in expression of human preproenkephalin (hPPE), a precursor for enkephalin opioid peptides, compared to the inherent expression of hPPE in naive hMSCs. The resultant chromaffin-like cells not only expressed the key molecular markers of adrenal chromaffin cells, such as tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and methionine enkephalin (Met-enkephalin), but also secreted opioid peptide Met-enkephalin in culture. In addition, intrathecal injection of chromaffin-like cells in rats produced significant analgesic effects without using immunosuppressants. These results suggest that analgesic chromaffin-like cells can be produced from an individual’s own tissue-derived stem cells by targeted cell reprogramming and also that these chromaffin-like cells may serve as potential autografts for chronic pain management.

Keywords: Adrenal chromaffin cells; Autologous stem cells; Cell reprogramming; Mesenchymal stem cells; Pain management

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 23, 2013

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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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