Long-term survival of human neural stem cells in the ischemic rat brain upon transient immunosuppression

Laura Rota Nodari, Daniela Ferrari, Fabrizio Giani, Mario Bossi, Virginia Rodriguez-Menendez, Giovanni Tredici, Domenico Delia, Angelo Luigi Vescovi, Lidia De Filippis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Understanding the physiology of human neural stem cells (hNSCs) in the context of cell therapy for neurodegenerative disorders is of paramount importance, yet large-scale studies are hampered by the slow-expansion rate of these cells. To overcome this issue, we previously established immortal, non-transformed, telencephalic-diencephalic hNSCs (IhNSCs) from the fetal brain. Here, we investigated the fate of these IhNSC's immediate progeny (i.e. neural progenitors; IhNSC-Ps) upon unilateral implantation into the corpus callosum or the hippocampal fissure of adult rat brain, 3 days after global ischemic injury. One month after grafting, approximately one fifth of the IhNSC-Ps had survived and migrated through the corpus callosum, into the cortex or throughout the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. By the fourth month, they had reached the ipsilateral subventricular zone, CA1-3 hippocampal layers and the controlateral hemisphere. Notably, these results could be accomplished using transient immunosuppression, i.e administering cyclosporine for 15 days following the ischemic event. Furthermore, a concomitant reduction of reactive microglia (Iba1+ cells) and of glial, GFAP+ cells was also observed in the ipsilateral hemisphere as compared to the controlateral one. IhNSC-Ps were not tumorigenic and, upon in vivo engraftment, underwent differentiation into GFAP+ astrocytes, and b-tubulinIII+ or MAP2+ neurons, which displayed GABAergic and GLUTAmatergic markers. Electron microscopy analysis pointed to the formation of mature synaptic contacts between host and donor-derived neurons, showing the full maturation of the IhNSC-P-derived neurons and their likely functional integration into the host tissue. Thus, IhNSC-Ps possess long-term survival and engraftment capacity upon transplantation into the globally injured ischemic brain, into which they can integrate and mature into neurons, even under mild, transient immunosuppressive conditions. Most notably, transplanted IhNSC-P can significantly dampen the inflammatory response in the lesioned host brain. This work further supports hNSCs as a reliable and safe source of cells for transplantation therapy in neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14035
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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