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Keywords:

  • Embryonic stem cells;
  • Oligodendrocytes;
  • Stem cell transplantation;
  • Neural differentiation

Abstract

Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) hold great promise for the treatment of patients with many neurodegenerative diseases particularly those arising from cell loss or neural dysfunction including spinal cord injury. This study evaluates the therapeutic effects of transplanted hESC-derived oligodendrocyte progenitors (OPC) and/or motoneuron progenitors (MP) on axonal remyelination and functional recovery of adult rats after complete spinal cord transection. OPC and/or MP were grafted into the site of injury in the acute phase. Based on Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan scores recovery of locomotor function was significantly enhanced in rats treated with OPC and/or MP when compared with control animals. When transplanted into the spinal cord immediately after complete transection, OPC and MP survived, migrated, and differentiated into mature oligodendrocytes and neurons showing in vivo electrophysiological activity. Taken together, these results indicate that OPC and MP derived from hESC could be a useful therapeutic strategy to repair injured spinal cord. STEM CELLS 2010; 28:1541–1549.