Cytokine-induced stable neuronal differentiation of human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells in a serum/feeder cell-free condition


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The characteristics and multilineage differentiation potential of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM MSC) remain controversial. This study aimed to characterize human BM MSC isolated by plastic adherent or antibody selection and their neuronal differentiation potential using growth factors or chemical inducing agents. MSC were found to express low levels of neuronal markers: neurofilament-M, β tubulin III, and neuron specific enolase. Under a serum- and feeder cell-free condition, basic fibroblast growth factor, epidermal growth factor, and platelet-derived growth factor induced neuronal morphology in MSC. In addition to the above markers, these cells expressed neurotransmitters or associated proteins: γ-aminobutyric acid, tyrosine hydroxylase and serotonin. These changes were maintained for up to 3 months in all bone marrow specimens (N = 6). In contrast, butylated hydroxyanisole and dimethylsulfoxide were unable to induce sustained neuronal differentiation. Our results show that MSC isolated by two different procedures produced identical lineage differentiation with defined growth factors in a serum- and feeder cell-free condition.