An in vivo model of epidermal neural crest cell migration after implantation into the brain

Jackson, J.S.; Golding, J.; Chapon, C.; Jones, W. and Bhakoo, K.K. (2007). An in vivo model of epidermal neural crest cell migration after implantation into the brain. In: Society for Neuroscience, 3-7 Nov 2007, San Diego, California.



Non-invasive cell monitoring is a pre-requisite if stem cell therapy is to reach the clinic. Epidermal neural crest cells (eNCCs) derived from hair follicles develop into neural crest derivatives and are well suited for use in neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, these cells are easily accessible from adults using a minimally-invasive procedure. This study aimed to determine the migration and fate of eNCCs in a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) lesion model.
Hair follicles were harvested from adult rats and cultured in 10% FCS/DMEM. Iron oxide nanoparticles, conjugated to FITC and TAT-peptide (IO-FITC-TAT), were developed in-house. 50,000 IO-FITC-TAT labelled eNCCs were implanted into the corpus callosum in control Sprague-Dawly rats. In another group, LPS (5µg/5µl) was injected 3mm rostral to the site of cell implantation. Serial in vivo MRI was performed at 9.4T. Subsequently, post-mortem histology was carried out.
Implanted eNCCs were visible as a hypointense region on a T2 MR image. Cells in the non-lesioned animal remained localised along the corpus callosum for 450µm and were GFAP positive. Cells implanted away from the lesion migrated only towards the lesion, as seen by the MR signal void. The IO-FITC-TAT reported the presence of the eNCCs at the LPS lesion site by histology. Similarly, there was GFAP+ differentiation.
This study demonstrates that eNCCs are visible, can be tracked by non-invasive MRI and have patho-tropic properties towards a lesion. As these cells differentiate into neural crest derivatives and are available from adults, they offer a viable alternative autologous stem cell source and gene targeting potential for neurodegenerative diseases.

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