Background: The presence, characteristics, and potential clinical relevance of neural progenitor populations within the neural placodes of myelomeningocele patients remain to be studied. Neural stem cells are known to reside adjacent to ependyma-lined surfaces along the central nervous system axis.
Objective: Given such neuroanatomic correlation and regenerative capacity in fetal development, we assessed myelomeningocele-derived neural placode tissue as a potentially novel source of neural stem and progenitor cells.
Methods: Nonfunctional neural placode tissue was harvested from infants during the surgical repair of myelomeningocele and subsequently further analyzed by in vitro studies, flow cytometry, and immunofluorescence. To assess lineage potential, neural placode-derived neurospheres were subjected to differential media conditions. Through assessment of platelet-derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRα) and CD15 cell marker expression, Sox2+Olig2+ putative oligodendrocyte progenitor cells were successfully isolated.
Results: PDGFRαCD15 cell populations demonstrated the highest rate of self-renewal capacity and multipotency of cell progeny. Immunofluorescence of neural placode-derived neurospheres demonstrated preferential expression of the oligodendrocyte progenitor marker, CNPase, whereas differentiation to neurons and astrocytes was also noted, albeit to a limited degree.
Conclusion: Neural placode tissue contains multipotent progenitors that are preferentially biased toward oligodendrocyte progenitor cell differentiation and presents a novel source of such cells for use in the treatment of a variety of pediatric and adult neurological disease, including spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and metabolic leukoencephalopathies.