Cell therapy for spinal cord injury by using human iPSC-derived region-specific neural progenitor cells.
ABSTRACT: The transplantation of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has beneficial effects on spinal cord injury (SCI). However, while there are many subtypes of NPCs with different regional identities, the subtype of iPSC-derived NPCs that is most appropriate for cell therapy for SCI has not been identified. Here, we generated forebrain- and spinal cord-type NPCs from human iPSCs and grafted them onto the injured spinal cord in mice. These two types of NPCs retained their regional identities after transplantation and exhibited different graft-host interconnection properties. NPCs with spinal cord regional identity but not those with forebrain identity resulted in functional improvement in SCI mice, especially in those with mild-to-moderate lesions. This study highlights the importance of the regional identity of human iPSC-derived NPCs used in cell therapy for SCI.
Project description:As a potentially unlimited autologous cell source, patient induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide great capability for tissue regeneration, particularly in spinal cord injury (SCI). However, despite significant progress made in translation of iPSC-derived neural progenitor cells (NPCs) to clinical settings, a few hurdles remain. Among them, non-invasive approach to obtain source cells in a timely manner, safer integration-free delivery of reprogramming factors, and purification of NPCs before transplantation are top priorities to overcome. In this study, we developed a safe and cost-effective pipeline to generate clinically relevant NPCs. We first isolated cells from patients' urine and reprogrammed them into iPSCs by non-integrating Sendai viral vectors, and carried out experiments on neural differentiation. NPCs were purified by A2B5, an antibody specifically recognizing a glycoganglioside on the cell surface of neural lineage cells, via fluorescence activated cell sorting. Upon further in vitro induction, NPCs were able to give rise to neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. To test the functionality of the A2B5+ NPCs, we grafted them into the contused mouse thoracic spinal cord. Eight weeks after transplantation, the grafted cells survived, integrated into the injured spinal cord, and differentiated into neurons and glia. Our specific focus on cell source, reprogramming, differentiation and purification method purposely addresses timing and safety issues of transplantation to SCI models. It is our belief that this work takes one step closer on using human iPSC derivatives to SCI clinical settings.
Project description:Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have emerged as a promising cell source for immune-compatible cell therapy. Although a variety of somatic cells have been tried for iPSC generation, it is still of great interest to test new cell types, especially those which are hardly obtainable in a normal situation.In this study, we generated iPSCs by using the cells originated from intervertebral disc which were removed during a spinal operation after spinal cord injury. We investigated the pluripotency of disc cell-derived iPSCs (diPSCs) and neural differentiation capability as well as therapeutic effect in spinal cord injury.The diPSCs displayed similar characteristics to human embryonic stem cells and were efficiently differentiated into neural precursor cells (NPCs) with the capability of differentiation into mature neurons in vitro. When the diPSC-derived NPCs were transplanted into mice 9 days after spinal cord injury, we detected a significant amelioration of hindlimb dysfunction during follow-up recovery periods. Histological analysis at 5 weeks after transplantation identified undifferentiated human NPCs (Nestin(+)) as well as early (Tuj1(+)) and mature (MAP2(+)) neurons derived from the transplanted NPCs. Furthermore, NPC transplantation demonstrated a preventive effect on spinal cord degeneration resulting from the secondary injury.This study revealed that intervertebral discs removed during surgery for spinal stabilization after spinal cord injury, previously considered a "waste" tissue, may provide a unique opportunity to study iPSCs derived from difficult-to-access somatic cells and a useful therapeutic resource for autologous cell replacement therapy in spinal cord injury.
Project description:Transplantation of human neural progenitor cells (NPCs) into the brain or spinal cord to replace lost cells, modulate the injury environment, or create a permissive milieu to protect and regenerate host neurons is a promising therapeutic strategy for neurological diseases. Deriving NPCs from human fetal tissue is feasible, although problematic issues include limited sources and ethical concerns. Here we describe a new and abundant source of NPCs derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). A novel chopping technique was used to transform adherent iPSCs into free-floating spheres that were easy to maintain and were expandable (EZ spheres) (Ebert et al.  Stem Cell Res 10:417-427). These EZ spheres could be differentiated towards NPC spheres with a spinal cord phenotype using a combination of all-trans retinoic acid (RA) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) and fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) mitogens. Suspension cultures of NPCs derived from human iPSCs or fetal tissue have similar characteristics, although they were not similar when grown as adherent cells. In addition, iPSC-derived NPCs (iNPCs) survived grafting into the spinal cord of athymic nude rats with no signs of overgrowth and with a very similar profile to human fetal-derived NPCs (fNPCs). These results suggest that human iNPCs behave like fNPCs and could thus be a valuable alternative for cellular regenerative therapies of neurological diseases.
Project description:Axon regeneration after spinal cord injury (SCI) is attenuated by growth inhibitory molecules associated with myelin. We report that rat myelin stimulated the growth of axons emerging from rat neural progenitor cells (NPCs) transplanted into sites of SCI in adult rat recipients. When plated on a myelin substrate, neurite outgrowth from rat NPCs and from human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neural stem cells (NSCs) was enhanced threefold. In vivo, rat NPCs and human iPSC-derived NSCs extended greater numbers of axons through adult central nervous system white matter than through gray matter and preferentially associated with rat host myelin. Mechanistic investigations excluded Nogo receptor signaling as a mediator of stem cell-derived axon growth in response to myelin. Transcriptomic screens of rodent NPCs identified the cell adhesion molecule neuronal growth regulator 1 (Negr1) as one mediator of permissive axon-myelin interactions. The stimulatory effect of myelin-associated proteins on rodent NPCs was developmentally regulated and involved direct activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). The stimulatory effects of myelin on NPC/NSC axon outgrowth should be investigated further and could potentially be exploited for neural repair after SCI.
Project description:Neural stem and progenitor cells (collectively termed neural precursor cells [NPCs]) are found along the ventricular neuraxis extending from the spinal cord to the forebrain in regionally distinct niches comprised of different cell types, architecture, and cell-cell interactions. An understanding of the factors that regulate NPC behavior is critical for developing therapeutics to repair the injured central nervous system. Herein, we demonstrate that myelin basic protein (MBP), the major cytoplasmic protein constituent of the myelin sheath in oligodendrocytes, can regulate NPC behavior. Under physiological conditions, NPCs are not in contact with intracellular MBP; however, upon injury, MBP is released into the neural parenchyma. We reveal that MBP presented in a spinal cord niche is inhibitory to NPC proliferation. This inhibitory effect is regionally distinct as spinal cord NPCs, but not forebrain-derived NPCs, are inhibited by MBP. We performed coculture and conditioned media experiments that reveal the stem cell niche is a key regulator of MBP's inhibitory actions on NPCs. The inhibition is mediated by a heat-labile protein released by spinal cord niche cells, but not forebrain niche cells. However, forebrain NPCs are also inhibited by the spinal cord derived factor as revealed following in vivo infusion of the spinal cord niche-derived conditioned media. Moreover, we show that MBP inhibits oligodendrogenesis from NPCs. Together, these findings highlight the role of MBP and the regionally distinct microenvironment in regulating NPC behavior which has important implications for stem cell-based regenerative strategies.
Project description:The adult spinal cord harbours a population of multipotent neural precursor cells (NPCs) with the ability to replace oligodendrocytes. However, despite this capacity, proliferation and endogenous remyelination is severely limited after spinal cord injury (SCI). In the post-traumatic microenvironment following SCI, endogenous spinal NPCs mainly differentiate into astrocytes which could contribute to astrogliosis that exacerbate the outcomes of SCI. These findings emphasize a key role for the post-SCI niche in modulating the behaviour of spinal NPCs after SCI. We recently reported that chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs) in the glial scar restrict the outcomes of NPC transplantation in SCI by reducing the survival, migration and integration of engrafted NPCs within the injured spinal cord. These inhibitory effects were attenuated by administration of chondroitinase (ChABC) prior to NPC transplantation. Here, in a rat model of compressive SCI, we show that perturbing CSPGs by ChABC in combination with sustained infusion of growth factors (EGF, bFGF and PDGF-AA) optimize the activation and oligodendroglial differentiation of spinal NPCs after injury. Four days following SCI, we intrathecally delivered ChABC and/or GFs for seven days. We performed BrdU incorporation to label proliferating cells during the treatment period after SCI. This strategy increased the proliferation of spinal NPCs, reduced the generation of new astrocytes and promoted their differentiation along an oligodendroglial lineage, a prerequisite for remyelination. Furthermore, ChABC and GF treatments enhanced the response of non-neural cells by increasing the generation of new vascular endothelial cells and decreasing the number of proliferating macrophages/microglia after SCI. In conclusions, our data strongly suggest that optimization of the behaviour of endogenous spinal NPCs after SCI is critical not only to promote endogenous oligodendrocyte replacement, but also to reverse the otherwise detrimental effects of their activation into astrocytes which could negatively influence the repair process after SCI.
Project description:Lissencephaly, or smooth brain, is a severe congenital brain malformation that is thought to be associated with impaired neuronal migration during corticogenesis. However, the exact etiology of lissencephaly in humans remains unknown. Research on congenital diseases is limited by the shortage of clinically derived resources, especially for rare pediatric diseases. The research on lissencephaly is further limited because gyration in humans is more evolved than that in model animals such as mice. To overcome these limitations, we generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from the umbilical cord and peripheral blood of two lissencephaly patients with different clinical severities carrying alpha tubulin (TUBA1A) missense mutations (Patient A, p.N329S; Patient B, p.R264C).Neural progenitor cells were generated from these iPSCs (iPSC-NPCs) using SMAD signaling inhibitors. These iPSC-NPCs expressed TUBA1A at much higher levels than undifferentiated iPSCs and, like fetal NPCs, readily differentiated into neurons. Using these lissencephaly iPSC-NPCs, we showed that the neurons derived from the iPSCs obtained from Patient A but not those obtained from Patient B showed abnormal neurite extension, which correlated with the pathological severity in the brains of the patients.We established iPSCs derived from lissencephaly patients and successfully modeled one aspect of the pathogenesis of lissencephaly in vitro using iPSC-NPCs and iPSC-derived neurons. The iPSCs from patients with brain malformation diseases helped us understand the mechanism underlying rare diseases and human corticogenesis without the use of postmortem brains.
Project description:Chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a highly debilitating and recalcitrant disease with limited treatment options. Although various stem cell types have shown some clinical efficacy for injury repair they have not for SCI. Hair-follicle-associated pluripotent (HAP) stem cells have been shown to differentiate into neurons, Schwan cells, beating cardiomyocytes and many other type of cells, and have effectively regenerated acute spinal cord injury in mouse models. In the present report, HAP stem cells from C57BL/6J mice, encapsulated in polyvinylidene fluoride membranes (PFM), were implanted into the severed thoracic spinal cord of C57BL/6J or athymic nude mice in the early chronic phase. After implantation, HAP stem cells differentiated to neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the regenerated thoracic spinal cord of C57BL/6J and nude mice. Quantitative motor function analysis, with the Basso Mouse Scale for Locomotion (BMS) score, demonstrated a significant functional improvement in the HAP-stem-cell-implanted mice, compared to non-implanted mice. HAP stem cells have critical advantages over other stem cells: they do not develop teratomas; do not loose differentiation ability when cryopreserved and thus are bankable; are autologous, readily obtained from anyone; and do not require genetic manipulation. HAP stem cells therefore have greater clinical potential for SCI repair than induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), neuronal stem cells (NSCs)/neural progenitor cells (NPCs) or embryonic stem cells (ESCs). The present report demonstrates future clinical potential of HAP-stem-cell repair of chronic spinal cord injury, currently a recalcitrant disease.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Stem cell therapy using neural progenitor cells (NPCs) shows promise in mitigating the debilitating effects of spinal cord injury (SCI). Notably, myelin stimulates axonal regeneration from mammalian NPCs. This led us to hypothesize that myelin-associated proteins may contribute to axonal regeneration from NPCs.<h4>Methods</h4>We conducted an R-based bioinformatics analysis to identify key gene(s) that may participate in myelin-associated axonal regeneration from murine NPCs, which identified the serine protease myelin basic protein (Mbp). We employed E12 murine NPCs, E14 rat NPCs, and human iPSC-derived Day 1 NPCs (D1 hNPCs) with or without CRISPR/Cas9-mediated Mbp knockout in combination with rescue L1-70 overexpression, constitutively-active VP16-PPARγ2, or the PPARγ agonist ciglitazone. A murine dorsal column crush model of SCI utilizing porous collagen-based scaffolding (PCS)-seeded murine NPCs with or without stable Mbp overexpression was used to assess locomotive recovery and axonal regeneration in vivo.<h4>Results</h4>Myelin promotes axonal outgrowth from NPCs in an Mbp-dependent manner and that Mbp's stimulatory effects on NPC neurite outgrowth are mediated by Mbp's production of L1-70. Furthermore, we determined that Mbp/L1-70's stimulatory effects on NPC neurite outgrowth are mediated by PPARγ-based repression of neuron differentiation-associated gene expression and PPARγ-based Erk1/2 activation. In vivo, PCS-seeded murine NPCs stably overexpressing Mbp significantly enhanced locomotive recovery and axonal regeneration in post-SCI mice.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We discovered that Mbp supports axonal regeneration from mammalian NPCs through the novel Mbp/L1cam/Pparγ signaling pathway. This study suggests that bioengineered, NPC-based interventions can promote axonal regeneration and functional recovery post-SCI.
Project description:Considering that every tissue/organ has the most suitable microenvironment for its functional cells, controlling induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) differentiation by culture on frozen sections having a suitable microenvironment is possible. Induced PSCs were cultured on frozen sections of the liver, the brain, the spinal cord, and cover glasses (control) for 9 days. The iPSCs cultured on the sections of the liver resembled hepatocytes, whereas those on sections of the brain and the spinal cord resembled neuronal cells. The percentage of hepatocytic marker-positive cells in the iPSCs cultured on the sections of the liver was statistically higher than that of those in the iPSCs cultured on the sections of the brain and the spinal cord or on cover glasses. In contrast, the iPSCs cultured on the sections of the brain and the spinal cord revealed a high percentage of neural marker-positive cells. Thus, iPSCs can be differentiated into a specific cell lineage in response to specific factors within frozen sections of tissues/organs. Differentiation efficacy of the frozen sections markedly differed between the iPSC clones. Therefore, our induction method could be simple and effective for evaluating the iPSC quality.