Author(s): Ladak A, Olson J, Tredget EE, Gordon T
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Abstract Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) support axon regeneration across artificial nerve bridges but their differentiative capacity and ability to promote nerve regeneration remains unclear. In this study, MSCs isolated from bone marrow of Sprague-Dawley rats were characterized by plastic adherence and pluripotency towards mesodermal lineages. Isolated undifferentiated MSCs (uMSCs) were stimulated towards a Schwann cell (SC) phenotype using specific growth factors, and cell marker analysis was performed to verify SC phenotype in vitro. Differentiation resulted in temporally dependent positive immunocytochemical staining for the SC markers, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), S100, and nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR), with maximal marker expression achieved after 6days of treatment with differentiation media. Quantitative analysis demonstrated that ~50\% of differentiated MSCs (dMSCs) have a SC phenotype. Using an indirect co-culture system, we compared the ability of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells to extend neurites in indirect contact with uMSCs and dMSCs as compared to SCs. The mean values of the longest length of the DRG neurites were the same for the dMSCs and SCs and significantly higher than the uMSC and DRG mono-culture systems (p < 0.05). In vivo, compared to an empty conduit, dMSC seeded collagen nerve conduits resulted in a greater number of sciatic motoneurons regenerating axons through the conduit into the distal nerve stump. We conclude that bone marrow-derived MSCs differentiate into a SC-phenotype that expresses SC markers transiently and sufficiently to support limited neurite outgrowth in vitro and axonal regeneration equivalent to that of SCs in vitro and in vivo. The nerve autograft remains the most effective conduit for supporting regeneration across nerve gaps. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Exp Neurol
and referenced in International Journal of Neurorehabilitation