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Donor stem cells used to treat spinal cord injury in mice



A new study in mice, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, details a potential therapeutic strategy that uses stem cells to promote recovery of motor activity after spinal cord injury.

The transplantation of neural stem cells could help promote repair of an injured spinal cord, but the interaction between donor cells and the resident cells that are part of the body's immune response to injury is not well understood.

In their study, published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience, stem cell biologist Hal Nguyen, Ph.D., and Aileen Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, along with  colleagues found that mice receiving stem cells derived from donated human brain tissue required depletion of a specific population of immune cells in order to improve the mice's ability to walk along a glass plate. Although the donor cells survived equally when transplanted immediately or 30 days after injury, their location and cell type changed with time.

These results suggest that immune cells populating the spinal cord at different time points after injury affect the ability of stem cells to promote functional recovery.

Human neural stem cells are derived via fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) from donated fetal brain tissue. Image courtesy of Hal X. Nguyen and Aileen J. Anderson

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DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2785-16.2017