BioScience Trends. 2020;14(5):360-367. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2020.03321)

Transplantation of neural stem cells encapsulated in hydrogels improve functional recovery in a cauda equina lesion model

Fu ZY, Wang HD, Wu YJ, Zhu T


This study explored the therapeutic effects of transplantation of neural stem cells (NSCs) encapsulated in hydrogels in a cauda equina lesion model. NSCs were isolated from neonatal dorsal root ganglion (nDRG) and cultured in three-dimensional porous hydrogel scaffolds. Immunohistochemistry, transmission electron microscopy and TUNEL assay were performed to detect the differentiation capability, ultrastructural and pathological changes, and apoptosis of NSCs. Furthermore, the functional recovery of sensorimotor reflexes was determined using the tail-flick test. NSCs derived from DRG were able to proliferate to form neurospheres and mainly differentiate into oligodendrocytes in the three-dimensional hydrogel culture system. After transplantation of NSCs encapsulated in hydrogels, NSCs differentiated into oligodendrocytes, neurons or astrocytes in vivo. Moreover, NSCs engrafted on the hydrogels decreased apoptosis and alleviated the ultrastructural and pathological changes of injured cauda equina. Behavioral analysis showed that transplanted hydrogel-encapsulated NSCs decreased the tail-flick latency and showed a neuroprotective role on injured cauda equina. Our results indicate transplantation of hydrogel-encapsulated NSCs promotes stem cell differentiation into oligodendrocytes, neurons or astrocytes and contributes to the functional recovery of injured cauda equina, suggesting that NSCs encapsulated in hydrogels may be applied for the treatment of cauda equina injury.

KEYWORDS: Cauda equina lesion, neural stem cells, neonatal dorsal root ganglion, Hydrogel

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