Glial Cell Line-derived Neurotrophic Factor-overexpressing Human Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells Enhance Therapeutic Efficiency in Rat with Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Exp Neurobiol. 2019 Dec 31;28(6):679-696. doi: 10.5607/en.2019.28.6.679.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes axonal damage and demyelination, neural cell death, and comprehensive tissue loss, resulting in devastating neurological dysfunction. Neural stem/progenitor cell (NSPCs) transplantation provides therapeutic benefits for neural repair in SCI, and glial cell linederived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has been uncovered to have capability of stimulating axonal regeneration and remyelination after SCI. In this study, to evaluate whether GDNF would augment therapeutic effects of NSPCs for SCI, GDNF-encoding or mock adenoviral vector-transduced human NSPCs (GDNF-or Mock-hNSPCs) were transplanted into the injured thoracic spinal cords of rats at 7 days after SCI. Grafted GDNFhNSPCs showed robust engraftment, long-term survival, an extensive distribution, and increased differentiation into neurons and oligodendroglial cells. Compared with Mock-hNSPC- and vehicle-injected groups, transplantation of GDNF-hNSPCs significantly reduced lesion volume and glial scar formation, promoted neurite outgrowth, axonal regeneration and myelination, increased Schwann cell migration that contributed to the myelin repair, and improved locomotor recovery. In addition, tract tracing demonstrated that transplantation of GDNF-hNSPCs reduced significantly axonal dieback of the dorsal corticospinal tract (dCST), and increased the levels of dCST collaterals, propriospinal neurons (PSNs), and contacts between dCST collaterals and PSNs in the cervical enlargement over that of the controls. Finally grafted GDNF-hNSPCs substantially reversed the increased expression of voltage-gated sodium channels and neuropeptide Y, and elevated expression of GABA in the injured spinal cord, which are involved in the attenuation of neuropathic pain after SCI. These findings suggest that implantation of GDNF-hNSPCs enhances therapeutic efficiency of hNSPCs-based cell therapy for SCI.

Keywords: Cell-based therapy; Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor; Mechanical allodynia; Neural stem/progenitor cells; Paraplegia; Spinal cord injuries.