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Adult Spinal Stem Cells Reverse Paralysis in Rats

Last Updated: April 01, 2009.

Spinal stem cells taken from adult rats with an injured spinal cord are effective at differentiating into oligodendrocytes and motor neurons and can reverse paralysis when transplanted into rats with a spinal cord injury, according to a study published in the March issue of Stem Cells.

WEDNESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Spinal stem cells taken from adult rats with an injured spinal cord are effective at differentiating into oligodendrocytes and motor neurons and can reverse paralysis when transplanted into rats with a spinal cord injury, according to a study published in the March issue of Stem Cells.

Victoria Moreno-Manzano, and colleagues from the Centro de Investigacion Principe Felipe in Valencia, Spain, studied the characteristics of ependymal stem/progenitor cells (epSPCs) from adult rats with a spinal cord injury and from uninjured adult rats. Ependymal cells line the central canal of the spinal cord and can regenerate the injured spinal cord in lower vertebrates; mammalian turnover of epSPCs declines during the postnatal period but can proliferate in response to injury, the study authors note.

The investigators found that epSPCs taken from injured rats proliferated 10 times faster in vitro than epSPCs from uninjured rats. Neurospheres derived from epSPCs from injured rats were more effective in differentiating into oligodendrocytes and functional spinal motor neurons. Transplantation of epSPCs from injured rats into a rat model of severe spinal cord contusion led to significant recovery of motor activity one week after injury, the researchers report. The transplanted cells migrated from the rostral and caudal regions of the transplant to axons in and around the lesion.

"Our findings demonstrate that modulation of endogenous epSPCs represents a viable cell-based strategy for restoring neuronal dysfunction in patients with spinal cord damage," Moreno-Manzano and colleagues conclude.

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