Transplantation of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neural stem cells mediate functional recovery following thoracic spinal cord injury through remyelination of axons

Ryan P. Salewski, Robert A. Mitchell, Lijun Li, Carl Shen, Maria Milekovskaia, Andras Nagy, Michael G. Fehlingsa

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Neural stem cells (NSCs) from embryonic or fetal/adult tissue sources have shown considerable promise in regenerative strategies for traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). However, there are limitations with their use related to the availability, immunogenicity, and uncertainty of the mechanisms involved. To address these issues, definitive NSCs derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells generated using a nonviral, piggyBac transposon approach, were investigated. Committed NSCs were generated from iPS cells using a free-floating neurosphere methodology previously described by our laboratory. To delineate the mechanism of action, specifically the role of exogenous myelination, NSCs derived from wildtype (wt) and nonmyelinating Shiverer (shi) iPS cell lines were used following thoracic SCI with subacute intraspinal transplantation. Behavioral, histological, and electrophysiological outcomes wereanalyzedtoassess the effectivenessof this treatment. Thewt- andshi-iPS-NSCswere validatedand shown to be equivalent except in myelination capacity. Both iPS-NSC lines successfully integrated into the injured spinal cord and predominantly differentiated to oligodendrocytes, but only the wt-iPS-NSC treatment resulted in a functional benefit. The wt-iPS-dNSCs, which exhibited the capacity for remyelination, significantly improved neurobehavioral function (BassoMouse Scale and CatWalk), histological outcomes, and electrophysiological measures of axonal function (sucrose gap analysis) compared with the nonmyelinating iPS-dNSCs and cell-free controls. In summary, we demonstrated that iPS cells can generate translationally relevant NSCs for applications in SCI. Although NSCs have a diverse range of functions in the injured spinal cord, remyelination is the predominantmechanismof recovery following thoracic SCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-754
Number of pages12
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Myelination
  • Neural stem cells
  • Spinal cord injury

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