Mesenchymal stem cells improve motor functions and decrease neurodegeneration in ataxic mice

Mol Ther. 2015 Jan;23(1):130-8. doi: 10.1038/mt.2014.143. Epub 2014 Jul 29.


The main objective of this work is to demonstrate the feasibility of using bone marrow-derived stem cells in treating a neurodegenerative disorder such as Friedreich's ataxia. In this disease, the dorsal root ganglia of the spinal cord are the first to degenerate. Two groups of mice were injected intrathecally with mesenchymal stem cells isolated from either wild-type or Fxntm1Mkn/Tg(FXN)YG8Pook (YG8) mice. As a result, both groups presented improved motor skills compared to nontreated mice. Also, frataxin expression was increased in the dorsal root ganglia of the treated groups, along with lower expression of the apoptotic markers analyzed. Furthermore, the injected stem cells expressed the trophic factors NT3, NT4, and BDNF, which bind to sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia and increase their survival. The expression of antioxidant enzymes indicated that the stem cell-treated mice presented higher levels of catalase and GPX-1, which are downregulated in the YG8 mice. There were no significant differences in the use of stem cells isolated from wild-type and YG8 mice. In conclusion, bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell transplantation, both autologous and allogeneic, is a feasible therapeutic option to consider in delaying the neurodegeneration observed in the dorsal root ganglia of Friedreich's ataxia patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Catalase / genetics
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Frataxin
  • Friedreich Ataxia / genetics
  • Friedreich Ataxia / metabolism
  • Friedreich Ataxia / pathology
  • Friedreich Ataxia / therapy*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism
  • Ganglia, Spinal / pathology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / genetics
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Glutathione Peroxidase GPX1
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Activity
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Neurotrophin 3 / genetics
  • Neurotrophin 3 / metabolism
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Iron-Binding Proteins
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neurotrophin 3
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • neurotrophin 4
  • Glutathione Peroxidase GPX1
  • Gpx1 protein, mouse