Although recent reports have described multipotent, self-renewing, neural crest-derived stem cells (NCSCs), the NCSCs in various adult rodent tissues have not been well characterized or compared. Here we identified NCSCs in the bone marrow (BM), dorsal root ganglia, and whisker pad and prospectively isolated them from adult transgenic mice encoding neural crest-specific P0-Cre/Floxed-EGFP and Wnt1-Cre/Floxed-EGFP. Cultured EGFP-positive cells formed neurosphere-like structures that expressed NCSC genes and could differentiate into neurons, glial cells, and myofibroblasts, but the frequency of the cell types was tissue source dependent. Interestingly, we observed NCSCs in the aorta-gonad-mesonephros region, circulating blood, and liver at the embryonic stage, suggesting that NCSCs migrate through the bloodstream to the BM and providing an explanation for how neural cells are generated from the BM. The identification of NCSCs in accessible adult tissue provides a new potential source for autologous cell therapy after nerve injury or disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas