Research: Human neural stem cells can myelinate

Uchida et al. Human neural stem cells induce functional myelination in mice with severe dysmyelination. Sci Transl Med. 2012 Oct 10;4:155ra136.

Shiverer-immunodeficient (Shi-id) mice demonstrate defective myelination in the central nervous system (CNS) and significant ataxia (unsteadiness of gait) by 2 to 3 weeks of life. Expanded, banked human neural stem cells (HuCNS-SCs) were transplanted into three sites in the brains of juvenile Shi-id mice, which were asymptomatic or showed advanced hypomyelination (reduced myelination) , respectively. In both groups of mice, HuCNS-SCs engrafted and underwent preferential differentiation into oligodendrocytes. These oligodendrocytes generated compact myelin with normalized nodal organization, ultrastructure, and axon conduction velocities (speed of electrical conduction). Myelination was equivalent in neonatal and juvenile mice by quantitative histopathology and high-field ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging, which, through fractional anisotropy, revealed CNS myelination 5 to 7 weeks after HuCNS-SC transplantation. Transplanted HuCNS-SCs generated functional myelin in the CNS, even in animals with severe symptomatic hypomyelination, suggesting that this strategy may be useful for treating dysmyelinating diseases.

Shiverer mice have a mutation in myelin basic protein that makes them not myelinate properly and they get a neurological problem that they shake or shiver. In this study they have used human stem cells and transplanted them into mice and the have become myelin forming cells. This is good news. The next important step would be to see if these cells  can do the same in an inflamed lesion like that that could be encountered in MS.  This experiment repeats what similar studies have shown.

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