Previous studies have demonstrated that neural stem/progenitor cells (NS/PCs) promote functional recovery in rodent animal models of spinal cord injury (SCI). Because distinct differences exist in the neuroanatomy and immunological responses between rodents and primates, it is critical to determine the effectiveness and safety of allografted embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived NS/PCs (ESC-NS/PCs) in a nonhuman primate SCI model. In the present study, common marmoset ESC-NS/PCs were grafted into the lesion epicenter 14 days after contusive SCI in adult marmosets (transplantation group). In the control group, phosphate-buffered saline was injected instead of cells. In the presence of a low-dose of tacrolimus, several grafted cells survived without tumorigenicity and differentiated into neurons, astrocytes, or oligodendrocytes. Significant differences were found in the transverse areas of luxol fast blue-positive myelin sheaths, neurofilament-positive axons, corticospinal tract fibers, and platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1-positive vessels at the lesion epicenter between the transplantation and control groups. Immunoelectron microscopic examination demonstrated that the grafted ESC-NS/PC-derived oligodendrocytes contributed to the remyelination of demyelinated axons. In addition, some grafted neurons formed synaptic connections with host cells, and some transplanted neurons were myelinated by host cells. Eventually, motor functional recovery significantly improved in the transplantation group compared with the control group. In addition, a mixedlymphocyte reaction assay indicated that ESC-NS/PCs modulated the allogeneic immune rejection. Taken together, our results indicate that allogeneic transplantation of ESC-NS/PCs from a nonhuman primate promoted functional recovery after SCI without tumorigenicity.
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