• Open Access

Nestin- and Doublecortin-Positive Cells Reside in Adult Spinal Cord Meninges and Participate in Injury-Induced Parenchymal Reaction§


  • Author contributions: I.D. and F.B.: conception and design, collection and/or assembly of data, data analysis and interpretation, manuscript writing, and final approval of manuscript.; F.J.R., G.M, S.D., S.P., M.S., and A.M.: collection and/or assembly of data and data analysis and interpretation; V.L., S.V., and V.B.: collection and/or assembly of data; M.K.: conception and design and financial support; G.F.: conception and design, financial support, data analysis and interpretation, manuscript writing, and final approval of manuscript. I.D. and F.B. contributed equally to this article.

  • Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.

  • §

    First published online in STEM CELLSEXPRESS October 28, 2011.

  • Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Terms and Conditions set out at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/onlineopen#OnlineOpen_Terms


Adult spinal cord has little regenerative potential, thus limiting patient recovery following injury. In this study, we describe a new population of cells resident in the adult rat spinal cord meninges that express the neural stem/precursor markers nestin and doublecortin. Furthermore, from dissociated meningeal tissue a neural stem cell population was cultured in vitro and subsequently shown to differentiate into functional neurons or mature oligodendrocytes. Proliferation rate and number of nestin- and doublecortin-positive cells increased in vivo in meninges following spinal cord injury. By using a lentivirus-labeling approach, we show that meningeal cells, including nestin- and doublecortin-positive cells, migrate in the spinal cord parenchyma and contribute to the glial scar formation. Our data emphasize the multiple roles of meninges in the reaction of the parenchyma to trauma and indicate for the first time that spinal cord meninges are potential niches harboring stem/precursor cells that can be activated by injury. Meninges may be considered as a new source of adult stem/precursor cells to be further tested for use in regenerative medicine applied to neurological disorders, including repair from spinal cord injury. STEM CELLS 2011;29:2062–2076.