Combination of exogenous cell transplantation and 5-HT4 receptor agonism induce endogenous enteric neural crest-derived cells in a rat hypoganglionosis model

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Enteric neural crest-derived cells (ENCCs) can migrate into endogenous ganglia and differentiate into progeny cells, and have even partially rescued bowel function; however, poor reliability and limited functional recovery after ENCC transplantation have yet to be addressed. Here, we investigated the induction of endogenous ENCCs by combining exogenous ENCC transplantation with a 5-HT4 receptor agonist mosapride in a rat model of hypoganglionosis, established by benzalkonium chloride treatment. ENCCs, isolated from the gut of newborn rats, were labeled with a lentiviral eGFP reporter. ENCCs and rats were treated with the 5-HT4 receptor agonist/antagonist. The labeled ENCCs were then transplanted into the muscular layer of benzalkonium chloride-treated colons. At given days post-intervention, colonic tissue samples were removed for histological analysis. ENCCs and neurons were detected by eGFP expression and immunoreactivity to p75NTR and peripherin, respectively. eGFP-positive ENCCs and neurons could survive and maintain levels of fluorescence after transplantation. With longer times post-intervention, the number of peripherin-positive cells gradually increased in all groups. Significantly more peripherin-positive cells were found following ENCCs plus mosapride treatment, compared with the other groups. These results show that exogenous ENCCs combined with the 5-HT4 receptor agonist effectively induced endogenous ENCCs proliferation and differentiation in a rat hypoganglionosis model.

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