Transplantation of neural stem/progenitor cells (NS/PCs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) is considered to be a promising therapy for spinal cord injury (SCI) and will soon be translated to the clinical phase. However, how grafted neuronal activity influences functional recovery has not been fully elucidated. Here, we show the locomotor functional changes caused by inhibiting the neuronal activity of grafted cells using a designer receptor exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADD). In vitro analyses of inhibitory DREADD (hM4Di)-expressing cells demonstrated the precise inhibition of neuronal activity via administration of clozapine N-oxide. This inhibition led to a significant decrease in locomotor function in SCI mice with cell transplantation, which was exclusively observed following the maturation of grafted neurons. Furthermore, trans-synaptic tracing revealed the integration of graft neurons into the host motor circuitry. These results highlight the significance of engrafting functionally competent neurons by hiPSC-NS/PC transplantation for sufficient recovery from SCI.
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