According to two recent studies, cell transplantation may be an effective treatment for spinal cord injury (SCI). A news release issued by the Cell Transplantation Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair reports that the studies appear in Cell Transplantation.

The first study is currently available online as an unedited e-pub

During the first study, researchers in Spain reportedly used laboratory rats modeled with SCI and found in laboratory tests on cells harvested from rats—specifically ependymal progenitor cells (epSPCs), multipotent stem cells found in adult tissues surrounding the ependymal canal of the spinal cord—responded to a range of compounds through the activation of purinergic receptors P2X4, P2X7, P2Y1, and P2Y4.

The release notes that the epSPCs also responded to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through this activation. ATP is known to accumulate at the sites of SCI and cooperate with growth factors that induce remodeling and repair, the release says.

Dr. Rosa Gomez-Villafuertes, department of Biochemistry at the Veterinary School at the University of Complutense in Madrid, Spain, explains that the study’s goal centered on analyzing the expression profile of receptors in ependymal-derived neurospheres and determining which receptors were functional by analysis of intercellular Ca2+ concentration.

“We demonstrated for the first time that epSPCs express functional ionotropic P2X4 and P2X7 and metabotropic P2Y1 and P2Y4 receptors that are able to respond to ATP, ADP and other nucleotide compounds,” Gomez-Villafuertes states.

The release states that when the researchers compared the epSPCs from healthy rats to epSPCs from rats modeled with SCI, they discovered that a downregulation of P2Y1 and an upregulation of P2Y4 had occurred in the epSPCs in the SCI group.

The researchers conclude in the release that the finding paves the way to an important avenue for potential therapeutic alternatives in SCI treatments based upon purinergic receptor modulation.

The second study also appears online as an unedited early e-pub. In the second study, a combined Egyptian/US research team from Cairo University and Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School also targeted their efforts on cell transplantation and SCI. The release states that the researchers discovered that transplanted and manipulated adherent, autologous (self-donated) bone marrow cells (ABMCs), when transplanted into dogs modeled with SCI, augmented the remyelination process and enhanced neurological repair of the damaged area.

In the release Dr. Hatem E. Sabaawy of the Regenerative and Molecule Medicine Program at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University, re-articulates the researchers’ findings, “Our study demonstrated that the transplantation of autologous canine ABMCs contributed considerably to the inadequate axonal regeneration resulting from SCI. These data were in accordance with the beneficial effects seen with ABMC transplantation in humans with SCI as based on the outcome of our Phase I/II clinical trial.”

The researchers report that it was possible that ABMCs or their derivative cells are reprogrammed in vivo to adapt to or exhibit a remyelinating fate “in response to clues in the SCI microenvironment.”

The researchers go on to conclude in the release that additional studies of each of these potential mechanisms of repair “will shed light on the roles of ABMCs in mediating SCI repair and allow for defining targets for an added enhancement of these repair features to achieve a more significant neural regeneration.”

Source(s): EurekAlert, Cell Transplantation Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair