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Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation Reduces Glial Cyst and Improves Functional Outcome After Spinal Cord Compression

Background

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent stem cells that have a supportive role in regenerative therapies, especially in the central nervous system, where spontaneous regeneration is limited. MSCs can exert a paracrine activity and modulate the inflammatory response after a central nervous system injury. Spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to permanent neurologic deficits below the injury site, owing to neuronal and axonal damage. Among experimental treatments after SCI, cell transplantation has emerged as a promising approach.

Methods

Using a compression injury model in the mouse spinal cord, MSCs were acutely transplanted into the lesion cavity; injured mice without the graft served as controls. After 26 days, the survival of MSCs was investigated, and their effect on the formation of glial cyst and on injury-related inflammation was evaluated.

Results

Grafted MSCs remained permanently undifferentiated. The lesion volume was reduced by 31.6% compared with control mice despite the fact that astroglial and microglial activation was not altered by the graft. Sensory and motor tests showed that MSC cell therapy results in improvement on a battery of behavioral tests compared with control mice: MSC-treated mice versus control mice scored 0.00 versus 0.50 in the posture test, 0.00 versus 1.50 in the hindlimb flexion test, 3.00 versus 2.25 in the sensory test, and 7.50 mistakes versus 15.83 mistakes in the foot-fault test.

Conclusions

These results underscore the therapeutic potential of MSCs, making them promising treatments for central nervous system pathologies.