Direct transplantation of uncultured hair-follicle pluripotent stem (hfPS) cells promotes the recovery of peripheral nerve injury



We previously showed that the stem cell marker nestin is expressed in hair follicle stem cells which suggested their pluripotency. We subsequently showed that the nestin-expressing hair-follicle pluripotent stem (hfPS) cells can differentiate in culture to neurons, glial cells, keratinocytes, and other cell types and can promote regeneration of peripheral nerve and spinal cord injuries upon injection to the injured nerve or spinal cord. The location of the hfPS cells has been termed the hfPS cell area (hfPSCA). Previously, hfPS cells were cultured for 1–2 months before transplantation to the injured nerve or spinal cord which would not be optimal for clinical application of these cells for nerve or spinal cord repair, since the patient should be treated soon after injury. In the present study, we addressed this issue by directly using the upper part of the hair follicle containing the hfPSCA, without culture, for injection into the severed sciatic nerve in mice. After injection of hfPSCA, the implanted hfPS cells grew and promoted joining of the severed nerve. The transplanted hfPS cells differentiated mostly to glial cells forming myelin sheaths, which promoted axonal growth and functional recovery of the severed nerve. These results suggest that the direct transplantation of the uncultured upper part of the hair follicle containing the hfPSA is an important method to promote the recovery of peripheral nerve injuries and has significant clinical potential. J. Cell. Biochem. 110: 272–277, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.