Stem Cells Transl Med, Oct 2012

Concise review: the potential of stromal cell-derived factor 1 and its receptors to promote stem cell functions in spinal cord repair.

Jaerve A, Schira J, Müller HW


Transplanted stem cells provide beneficial effects on regeneration/recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI) by the release of growth-promoting factors, increased tissue preservation, and provision of a permissive environment for axon regeneration. A rise in chemokine stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1/CXCL12) expression levels in central nervous system (CNS) injury sites has been shown to play a central role in recruiting transplanted stem cells. Although technically more challenging, it has been shown that after SCI few endogenous stem cells are recruited via SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling. Evidence is accumulating that increasing SDF-1 levels at the injury site (e.g., by exogenous application or transfection methods) further enhances stem cell recruitment. Moreover, SDF-1 might, in addition to migration, also influence survival, proliferation, differentiation, and cytokine secretion of stem cells. Here, we discuss the experimental data available on the role of SDF-1 in stem and progenitor cell biology following CNS injury and suggest strategies for how manipulation of the SDF-1 system could facilitate stem cell-based therapeutic approaches in SCI. In addition, we discuss challenges such as how to circumvent off-target effects in order to facilitate the transfer of SDF-1 to the clinic.


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