Convincing evidence demonstrated impairment of the blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), mainly by endothelial cell (EC) alterations. Replacing damaged ECs by cell transplantation is a potential barrier repair strategy. Recently, we showed that intravenous (iv) administration of human bone marrow CD34 + (hBM34 + ) cells into symptomatic ALS mice benefits BSCB restoration and postpones disease progression. However, delayed effect on motor function and some severely damaged capillaries were noted. We hypothesized that hematopoietic cells from a restricted lineage would be more effective. This study aimed to establish the effects of human bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (hBMEPCs) systemically transplanted into G93A mice at symptomatic disease stage. Results showed that transplanted hBMEPCs significantly improved behavioral disease outcomes, engrafted widely into capillaries of the gray/white matter spinal cord and brain motor cortex/brainstem, substantially restored capillary ultrastructure, significantly decreased EB extravasation into spinal cord parenchyma, meaningfully re-established perivascular astrocyte end-feet, and enhanced spinal cord motor neuron survival. These results provide novel evidence that transplantation of hBMEPCs effectively repairs the BSCB, potentially preventing entry of detrimental peripheral factors, including immune/inflammatory cells, which contribute to motor neuron dysfunction. Transplanting EC progenitor cells may be a promising strategy for barrier repair therapy in this disease.
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