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UC Davis team 'spikes' stem cells to generate myelin
Date:8/28/2013

ey found that unlike natural OPCs, the ESC-derived OPCs lacked sodium ion channels in their cell membranes, making them unable to generate spikes when electrically stimulated. Using a technique called viral transduction, they then introduced DNA that codes for sodium channels into the ESC-derived OPCs. These OPCs then expressed ion channels in their cells and developed the ability to generate spikes.

According to Deng, this is the first time that scientists have successfully generated OPCs with so-called spiking properties. This achievement allowed them to compare the capabilities of spiking cells to non-spiking cells.

In cell culture, they found that only spiking OPCs received electrical input from neurons, and they showed superior capability to mature into oligodendrocytes.

They also transplanted spiking and non-spiking OPCs into the spinal cord and brains of mice that are genetically unable to produce myelin. Both types of OPCs had the capability to mature into oligo-dendrocytes and produce myelin, but those from spiking OPCs produced longer and thicker myelin sheaths around axons.

"We actually developed 'super cells' with an even greater capacity to spike than natural cells," Deng said. "This appears to give them an edge for maturing into oligodendrocytes and producing better myelin."

It is well known that adult human neural tissue has a poor capacity to regenerate naturally. Although early cells such as OPCs are present, they do not regenerate tissue very effectively when disease or injury strikes.

Deng believes that replacing glial cells with the enhanced spiking OPCs to treat neural injuries and diseases has the potential to be a better strategy than replacing neurons, which tend to be more problematic to work with. Providing the proper structure and environment for neurons to live may be the best approach to regenerate healthy neural tissue. He also notes that many diverse conditions that have not t
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Contact: Charles Casey
charles.casey@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9048
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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