Neuroglial differentiation of adult enteric neuronal progenitor cells as a function of extracellular matrix composition

Shreya Raghavan, Robert R. Gilmont, Khalil N. Bitar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Enteric neuronal progenitor cells are neural crest-derived stem cells that can be isolated from fetal, post-natal and adult gut. Neural stem cell transplantation is an emerging therapeutic paradigm to replace dysfunctional or lost enteric neurons in several aganglionic disorders of the GI tract. The impetus to identify an appropriate microenvironment for enteric neuronal progenitor cells derives from the need to improve survival and phenotypic stability following implantation. Extracellular matrix composition can modulate stem cell fate and direct differentiation. Adult mammalian myenteric ganglia invivo are surrounded by a matrix composed primarily of Collagen IV, Laminin and a Heparan sulfate proteoglycan. In these studies, adult mammalian enteric neuronal progenitor cells isolated from full thickness rabbit intestines were induced to differentiate when cultured on various combinations of neural ECM substrates. Neuronal and glial differentiation was studied as a function of ECM composition on coated glass coverslips. Poly-lysine coated coverslips (control) supported extensive glial differentiation but very minimal neuronal differentiation. Individual culture substrata (Laminin, Collagen I and Collagen IV) were conducive for both neuronal and glial differentiation. The addition of laminin or heparan sulfate to collagen substrates improved neuronal differentiation, significantly increased neurite lengths, branching and initiation of neuronal network formation. Glial differentiation was extensive on control poly lysine coated coverslips. Addition of laminin or heparan sulfate to composite collagen substrates significantly reduced glial immunofluorescence. Various neural ECM components were evaluated individually and in combination to study their effect of neuroglial differentiation of adult enteric neuronal progenitor cells. Our results indicate that specific ECM substrates that include type IV Collagen, laminin and heparan sulfate support and maintain neuronal and glial differentiation to different extents. Here, we identify a matrix composition optimized to tissue engineer transplantable innervated GI smooth muscle constructs to remedy aganglionic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6649-6658
Number of pages10
Issue number28
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Adult stem cell
  • Enteric glia
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Neural stem cell
  • Neural tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuroglial differentiation of adult enteric neuronal progenitor cells as a function of extracellular matrix composition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this