Conditioned medium from human amniotic epithelial cells may induce the differentiation of human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells into dopaminergic neuron-like cells

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Dopaminergic (DA) neuron therapy has been established as a new clinical tool for treating Parkinson's disease (PD). Prior to cell transplantation, there are two primary issues that must be resolved: one is the appropriate seed cell origin, and the other is the efficient inducing technique. In the present study, human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hUCB-MSCs) were used as the available seed cells, and conditioned medium from human amniotic epithelial cells (ACM) was used as the inducing reagent. Results showed that the proportion of DA neuron-like cells from hUCB-MSCs was significantly increased after cultured in ACM, suggested by the upregulation of DAT, TH, Nurr1, and Pitx3. To identify the process by which ACM induces DA neuron differentiation, we pretreated hUCB-MSCs with k252a, the Trk receptor inhibitor of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF), and found that the proportion of DA neuron-like cells was significantly decreased compared with ACM-treated hUCB-MSCs, suggesting that NGF and BDNF in ACM were involved in the differentiation process. However, we could not rule out the involvement of other unidentified factors in the ACM, because ACM + k252a treatment does not fully block DA neuron-like cell differentiation compared with control. The transplantation of ACM-induced hUCB-MSCs could ameliorate behavioral deficits in PD rats, which may be associated with the survival of engrafted DA neuron-like cells. In conclusion, we propose that hUCB-MSCs are a good source of DA neuron-like cells and that ACM is a potential inducer to obtain DA neuron-like cells from hUCB-MSCs in vitro for an ethical and legal cell therapy for PD. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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