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Keywords:

  • Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Neural stem cells;
  • Stem cell transplantation;
  • Stem cell microenvironment interactions;
  • Rat model

Abstract

Stem cells have gained significant interest as a potential treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington's disease (HD). One source of these cells is adult neural stem cells (aNSCs), which differentiate easily into neuronal lineages. However, these cells are vulnerable to immune responses following transplantation. Another source is bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which release neurotrophic factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines following transplantation, and are less vulnerable to rejection. The goal of this study was to compare the efficacy of transplants of MSCs, aNSCs, or cotransplants of MSCs and aNSCs for reducing deficits in a transgenic rat model of HD. HD rats received intrastriatal transplantations of 400,000 MSCs, aNSCs, or a combination of MSCs/aNSCs, while wild-type and HD controls were given vehicle. Rats were tested on the rotarod over the course of 20 weeks. The results indicated that transplants of: (a) aNSCs produced a strong immune response and conferred short-term behavioral benefits; (b) MSCs elicited a relatively weak immune response, and provided a longer term behavioral benefit; and (c) combined MSCs and aNSCs conferred long-term behavioral benefits and increased survival of the transplanted aNSCs. The finding that cotransplanting MSCs with aNSCs can prolong aNSC survival and provide greater behavioral sparing than when the transplants contains only aNSCs suggests that MSCs are capable of creating a more suitable microenvironment for aNSC survival. This cotransplantation strategy may be useful as a future therapeutic option for treating HD, especially if long-term survival of differentiated cells proves to be critically important for preserving lasting functional outcomes. Stem Cells 2014;32:500–509