Mesenchymal stem cells and neural crest stem cells from adult bone marrow: characterization of their surprising similarities and differences

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Aug;69(15):2593-608. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-0937-1. Epub 2012 Feb 19.


The generation of neuronal cells from stem cells obtained from adult bone marrow is of significant clinical interest in order to design new cell therapy protocols for several neurological disorders. The recent identification in adult bone marrow of stem cells derived from the neural crest stem cells (NCSC) might explain the neuronal phenotypic plasticity shown by bone marrow cells. However, little information is available about the nature of these cells compared to mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), including their similarities and differences. In this paper, using transcriptomic as well as proteomic technologies, we compared NCSC to MSC and stromal nestin-positive cells, all of them isolated from adult bone marrow. We demonstrated that the nestin-positive cell population, which was the first to be described as able to differentiate into functional neurons, was a mixed population of NCSC and MSC. More interestingly, we demonstrated that MSC shared with NCSC the same ability to truly differentiate into Tuj1-positive cells when co-cultivated with paraformaldehyde-fixed cerebellar granule neurons. Altogether, those results suggest that both NCSC and MSC can be considered as important tools for cellular therapies in order to replace neurons in various neurological diseases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Retracted Publication

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Adult Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Nestin
  • Neural Crest / cytology
  • Neural Crest / metabolism
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Proteome
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcriptome


  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nes protein, mouse
  • Nes protein, rat
  • Nestin
  • Proteome