Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) isolated from humans and rodents have been shown to generate neural cells under specific culture conditions and after transplantation in the central nervous system. The apparent plasticity of BMSCs has therefore been a target of intensive research in attempt to develop a novel therapy for neurological diseases. Canines sustain neurological disorders (e.g., traumatic spinal cord injury) that closely mirror pathology of those in humans. Therefore, we evaluated neural differentiation properties of canine BMSCs to provide insights into basic characterization of these cells for future neurotransplantation trials in canine patients with neurological disorders. We demonstrate that canine BMSCs form spherical cellular aggregates on anti-adhesive culture substrate in serum-free culture media, which morphologically and phenotypically resemble spherical aggregates of neural progenitor cells, so-called neurospheres. Upon dissociation and subculture on adhesive substrate, canine BMSCs express neuronal (β -tubulin) and glial (GFAP, A2B5, and CNPase) markers. Formation of spherical aggregates appears to be a critical preceding process for some of the glial marker expression (CNPase and A2B5). However, expression of more mature neuronal (MAP2) and glial (MBP) markers could not be induced with the protocol used in this study. We suggest that induction of canine BMSCs into cells with neural progenitor cell characteristics is possible and that these cells may have the potential for future cellular therapy for neurological disorders.
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Vol. 44 • No. 5