Human Spinal Oligodendrogenic Neural Progenitor Cells Enhance Pathophysiological Outcomes and Functional Recovery in a Clinically Relevant Cervical Spinal Cord Injury Rat Model

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2023 Sep 15;12(9):603-616. doi: 10.1093/stcltm/szad044.


Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) results in the loss of neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes. Present interventions for SCI include decompressive surgery, anti-inflammatory therapies, and rehabilitation programs. Nonetheless, these approaches do not offer regenerative solutions to replace the lost cells, fiber tracts, and circuits. Neural stem/progenitor cell (NPC) transplantation is a promising strategy that aims to encourage regeneration. However, NPC differentiation remains inconsistent, thus, contributing to suboptimal functional recovery. As such, we have previously engineered oligodendrogenically biased NPCs (oNPCs) and demonstrated their efficacy in a thoracic model of SCI. Since the majority of patients with SCI experience cervical injuries, our objective in the current study was to generate human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived oNPCs (hiPSC-oNPCs) and to characterize these cells in vitro and in vivo, utilizing a clinically relevant rodent model of cervical SCI. Following transplantation, the oNPCs engrafted, migrated to the rostral and caudal regions of the lesion, and demonstrated preferential differentiation toward oligodendrocytes. Histopathological evaluations revealed that oNPC transplantation facilitated tissue preservation while diminishing astrogliosis. Moreover, oNPC transplantation fostered remyelination of the spared tissue. Functional analyses indicated improved forelimb grip strength, gait, and locomotor function in the oNPC-transplanted rats. Importantly, oNPC transplantation did not exacerbate neuropathic pain or induce tumor formation. In conclusion, these findings underscore the therapeutic potential of oNPCs in promoting functional recovery and histopathological improvements in cervical SCI. This evidence warrants further investigation to optimize and advance this promising cell-based therapeutic approach.

Keywords: myelination; neural stem progenitor cells; oligodendrocytes; spinal cord injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cervical Cord*
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells*
  • Neural Stem Cells*
  • Rats
  • Recovery of Function
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / therapy

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