The role of hSCs in promoting neural differentiation of hUC-MSCs in spinal cord injury
Qiuli Wu,1,* You Chen,1,* Guangzhi Ning,1 Shiqing Feng,1 Junling Han,2 Qiang Wu,1 Yulin LI,1 Hong Wu,1 Hongyu Shi1
1Department of Orthopedics, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, Tianjin, People's Republic of China; 2Tianjin Union Stem Cell and Gene Engineering Co., Ltd, Tianjin, People's Republic of China
* These authors contributed equally to this paper
Abstract: Cell therapy is a promising approach to treating spinal cord injury (SCI). Previous studies demonstrated that co-transplantation of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUC-MSCs) and human Schwann cells (hSCs) was an effective strategy by which to promote the regeneration of corticospinal fibers and locomotor recovery after SCI in rats. However, the neural differentiation potential of hUC-MSCs was not fully understood. In the present study, we examined the influence of hSCs on the survival and differentiation of hUC-MSCs in SCI rats. Four groups of rats were implanted with Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium (DMEM), hSCs, hUC-MSCs, or a combination of hSCs and hUC-MSCs, respectively. Our results demonstrated that MAB1281 immunopositive cells appeared in the injured site of the transplanted cell groups, while myelin basic protein and high-molecular-weight neurofilament immunopositive cells were detected only in the co-transplantation group under the positive background of MAB1281. Furthermore, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Western blot showed significantly higher expression of myelin basic protein and high-molecular-weight neurofilament and lower expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein in the co-transplantation group (P < 0.05), which correlated strongly with immunofluorescence findings. These results suggest that hSCs could induce hUC-MSC differentiation into neurons and oligodendrocytes and inhibit the formation of glial scarring after SCI. The neural differentiation of hUC-MSCs is likely induced by soluble factors provided by hSCs.
Keywords: spinal cord injury, Schwann cell, human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell, cell transplantation, neural differentiation
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