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Schwann cells generated from neonatal skin-derived precursors or neonatal peripheral nerve improve functional recovery after acute transplantation into the partially injured cervical spinal cord of the rat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Joseph S Sparling
  • Frederic Bretzner
  • Jeff Biernaskie
  • Peggy Assinck
  • Yuan Jiang
  • Hiroki Arisato
  • Ward T Plunet
  • Jaimie Borisoff
  • Jie Liu
  • Freda D Miller
  • Wolfram Tetzlaff

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6714-30
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2015


The transplantation of Schwann cells (SCs) holds considerable promise as a therapy for spinal cord injury, but the optimal source of these cells and the best timing for intervention remains debatable. Previously, we demonstrated that delayed transplantation of SCs generated from neonatal mouse skin-derived precursors (SKP-SCs) promoted repair and functional recovery in rats with thoracic contusions. Here, we conducted two experiments using neonatal rat cells and an incomplete cervical injury model to examine the efficacy of acute SKP-SC transplantation versus media control (Experiment 1) and versus nerve-derived SC or dermal fibroblast (Fibro) transplantation (Experiment 2). Despite limited graft survival, by 10 weeks after injury, rats that received SCs from either source showed improved functional recovery compared with media- or fibroblast-treated animals. Compared with media treatment, SKP-SC-transplanted rats showed enhanced rubrospinal tract (RST) sparing/plasticity in the gray matter (GM) rostral to injury, particularly in the absence of immunosuppression. The functional benefits of SC transplantations over fibroblast treatment correlated with the enhanced preservation of host tissue, reduced RST atrophy, and/or increased RST sparing/plasticity in the GM. In summary, our results indicate that: (1) early transplantation of neonatal SCs generated from skin or nerve promotes repair and functional recovery after incomplete cervical crush injury; (2) either of these cell types is preferable to Fibros for these purposes; and (3) age-matched SCs from these two sources do not differ in terms of their reparative effects or functional efficacy after transplantation into the injured cervical spinal cord.

    Research areas

  • Animals, Animals, Newborn, Biotin/analogs & derivatives, Cell Differentiation, Cells, Cultured, Cervical Cord, Dextrans, Disease Models, Animal, Forelimb/physiology, Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics, Motor Activity/physiology, Nerve Tissue Proteins/metabolism, Peripheral Nerves/cytology, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Rats, Transgenic, Recovery of Function/physiology, Schwann Cells/physiology, Skin/cytology, Spinal Cord Injuries/surgery, Stromal Cells/physiology

ID: 133870904