Stem cells have a high therapeutic potential for the treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI). We have shown previously that endogenous stem cell potential is confined to ependymal cells in the adult spinal cord which could be targeted for non-invasive SCI therapy. However, ependymal cells are an understudied cell population. Taking advantage of transgenic lines, we characterize the appearance and potential of ependymal cells during development. We show that spinal cord stem cell potential in vitro is contained within these cells by birth. Moreover, juvenile cultures generate more neurospheres and more oligodendrocytes than adult ones. Interestingly, juvenile ependymal cells in vivo contribute to glial scar formation after severe but not mild SCI, due to a more effective sealing of the lesion by other glial cells. This study highlights the importance of the age-dependent potential of stem cells and post-SCI environment in order to utilize ependymal cell's regenerative potential.
Keywords: Development; Ependymal cells; Glial cells; Juvenile; Spinal cord injury; Stem cell potential.
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