Recent studies have shown that delayed transplantation of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) into the injured spinal cord can promote functional recovery in adult rats. Preclinical studies using nonhuman primates, however, are necessary before NSPCs can be used in clinical trials to treat human patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). Cervical contusion SCIs were induced in 10 adult common marmosets using a stereotaxic device. Nine days after injury, in vitro-expanded human NSPCs were transplanted into the spinal cord of five randomly selected animals, and the other sham-operated control animals received culture medium alone. Motor functions were evaluated through measurements of bar grip power and spontaneous motor activity, and temporal changes in the intramedullary signals were monitored by magnetic resonance imaging. Eight weeks after transplantation, all animals were sacrificed. Histologic analysis revealed that the grafted human NSPCs survived and differentiated into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes, and that the cavities were smaller than those in sham-operated control animals. The bar grip power and the spontaneous motor activity of the transplanted animals were significantly higher than those of sham-operated control animals. These findings show that NSPC transplantation was effective for SCI in primates and suggest that human NSPC transplantation could be a feasible treatment for human SCI.
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