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Reduced Oxygen Levels Could Double Neural Stem Cells’ Chance of Survival
Date:5/15/2013

Durham, NC (PRWEB) May 15, 2013

Decreasing the amount of oxygen traditionally used when culturing stem cells for use in neurological therapies could drastically affect their survival rate. In fact, it could double it, according to a new study released today in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.

“Cells are usually cultured in the lab in a 20 percent oxygen environment, a level far removed from the in vivo situation. This is particularly true in the central nervous system, where oxygen tensions — that is, the concentration of oxygen at a specific pressure — are normally around 3 percent,” said Sybil Stacpoole, M.D., Ph.D., lead author on the paper by a team of researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh.

“Cell transplantation strategies therefore typically introduce a stress challenge at the time of transplantation as the cells are switched from 20 percent to 3 percent oxygen, which is the average in adult organs,” she added.

A previous study had indicated that cardiac stem cells showed a better survival rate when the oxygen tension during their culturing was reduced. In this study, the Cambridge and Edinburgh teams wanted to learn if the same might prove true for neural stem cells (NSCs). So they modeled the oxygen stress that occurs during transplantation and, using NSCs collected from young rats, demonstrated that reducing the oxygen tension during culture in the laboratory from 20 percent to 3 percent resulted in significant cell death, while maintaining a 3 percent level protected them.

They saw similar results when they transplanted the stem cells into the brains of adult rats.

“NSCs cultured at an oxygen level of 3 percent rather than 20 percent oxygen approximately doubled survival in the immediate post-transplantation phase,” Dr. Stacpoole reported.

In addition, the low oxygen tensions resulted in more cells developing into oligodendrocytes, both in vitro
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