Background: Currently, there is no adequate animal model to study the detailed molecular biochemistry of fragile X syndrome, the leading heritable form of mental impairment. In this study, we sought to establish the use of immature neural cells derived from adult tissues as a novel model of fragile X syndrome that could be used to more fully understand the pathology of this neurogenetic disease.
Methods: By modifying published methods for the harvest of neural progenitor cells from the post-mortem human brain, neural cells were successfully harvested and grown from post-mortem brain tissue of a 25-year-old adult male with fragile X syndrome, and from brain tissue of a patient with no neurological disease.
Results: The cultured fragile X cells displayed many of the characteristics of neural progenitor cells, including nestin and CD133 expression, as well as the biochemical hallmarks of fragile X syndrome, including CGG repeat expansion and a lack of FMRP expression.
Conclusion: The successful production of neural cells from an individual with fragile X syndrome opens a new avenue for the scientific study of the molecular basis of this disorder, as well as an approach for studying the efficacy of new therapeutic agents.