Murine bone marrow stromal cells differentiate not only into mesodermal derivatives, such as osteocytes, chondrocytes, adipocytes, skeletal myocytes, and cardiomyocytes, but also into neuroectodermal cells in vitro. Human bone marrow stromal cells are easy to isolate but difficult to study because of their limited life span. To overcome this problem, we attempted to prolong the life span of bone marrow stromal cells and investigated whether bone marrow stromal cells modified with bmi-1, hTERT, E6, and E7 retained their differentiated capability, or multipotency. In this study, we demonstrated that the life span of bone marrow stromal cells derived from a 91-year-old donor could be extended and that the stromal cells with an extended life span differentiated into neuronal cells in vitro. We examined the neuronally differentiated cells morphologically, physiologically, and biologically and compared the gene profiles of undifferentiated and differentiated cells. The neuronally differentiated cells exhibited characteristics similar to those of midbrain neuronal progenitors. Thus, the results of this study support the possible use of autologous-cell graft systems to treat central nervous system diseases in geriatric patients.
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