Multifaceted neuro-regenerative activities of human dental pulp stem cells for functional recovery after spinal cord injury.
Strategies aimed at improving spinal cord regeneration after trauma are still challenging neurologists and neuroscientists throughout the world. Many cell-based therapies have been tested, with limited success in terms of functional outcome. In this study, we investigated the effects of human dental pulp cells (HDPCs) in a mouse model of compressive spinal cord injury (SCI). These cells present some advantages, such as the ease of the extraction process, and expression of trophic factors and embryonic markers from both ecto-mesenchymal and mesenchymal components. Young adult female C57/BL6 mice were subjected to laminectomy at T9 and compression of the spinal cord with a vascular clip for 1 min. The cells were transplanted 7 days or 28 days after the lesion, in order to compare the recovery when treatment is applied in a subacute or chronic phase. We performed quantitative analyses of white-matter preservation, trophic-factor expression and quantification, and ultrastructural and functional analysis. Our results for the HDPC-transplanted animals showed better white-matter preservation than the DMEM groups, higher levels of trophic-factor expression in the tissue, better tissue organization, and the presence of many axons being myelinated by either Schwann cells or oligodendrocytes, in addition to the presence of some healthy-appearing intact neurons with synapse contacts on their cell bodies. We also demonstrated that HDPCs were able to express some glial markers such as GFAP and S-100. The functional analysis also showed locomotor improvement in these animals. Based on these findings, we propose that HDPCs may be feasible candidates for therapeutic intervention after SCI and central nervous system disorders in humans.