Research ArticleSpinal Cord Injury

GDNF rescues the fate of neural progenitor grafts by attenuating Notch signals in the injured spinal cord in rodents

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Science Translational Medicine  08 Jan 2020:
Vol. 12, Issue 525, eaau3538
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau3538

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The fate-determining factor

Neural progenitor cells (NPCs) emerged as a potential therapeutic approach for repairing and regenerating neurons after spinal cord injury. However, the hostile microenvironment of the injured spinal cord contributes to the limited degree of recovery observed after NPC transplant in rodents. Now, Khazaei et al. have shown that activation of Notch signaling in the spinal cord after injury reduces the therapeutic potential of the transplanted NPCs. Counteracting Notch activation by expressing GDNF in transplanted NPCs promoted differentiation toward a neuronal cell fate and improved motor function after injury in rodents. The results suggest that modulating the injured microenvironment might improve recovery after stem cell transplant.

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