Volume 74 (2012) Issue 12 Pages 1617-1630
Previous animal studies have shown that transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into spinal cord lesions enhances axonal regeneration and promotes functional recovery. We isolated the MSCs derived from fat, bone marrow, Wharton’s jelly and umbilical cord blood (UCB) positive for MSC markers and negative for hematopoietic cell markers. Their effects on the regeneration of injured canine spinal cords were compared. Spinal cord injury was induced by balloon catheter compression. Dogs with injured spinal cords were treated with only matrigel or matrigel mixed with each type of MSCs. Olby and modified Tarlov scores, immunohistochemistry, ELISA and Western blot analysis were used to evaluate the therapeutic effects. The different MSC groups showed significant improvements in locomotion at 8 weeks after transplantation (P<0.05). This recovery was accompanied by increased numbers of surviving neuron and neurofilament-positive fibers in the lesion site. Compared to the control, the lesion sizes were smaller, and fewer microglia and reactive astrocytes were found in the spinal cord epicenter of all MSC groups. Although there were no significant differences in functional recovery among the MSCs groups, UCB-derived MSCs (UCSCs) induced more nerve regeneration and anti-inflammation activity (P<0.05). Transplanted MSCs survived for 8 weeks and reduced IL-6 and COX-2 levels, which may have promoted neuronal regeneration in the spinal cord. Our data suggest that transplantation of MSCs promotes functional recovery after SCI. Furthermore, application of UCSCs led to more nerve regeneration, neuroprotection and less inflammation compared to other MSCs.