Stem Cells, Feb 2015

Reactive Astrocytes and Stem Cells in Spinal Cord Injury: Good Guys or Bad Guys?

Lukovic D, Stojkovic M, Moreno-Manzano V, Jendelova P, Sykova E, Bhattacharya SS, Erceg S


Spinal cord injury (SCI) usually results in long lasting locomotor and sensory neuron degeneration below the injury. Astrocytes normally play a decisive role in mechanical and metabolic support of neurons, but in the spinal cord they cause injury, exerting well-known detrimental effects that contribute to glial scar formation and inhibition of axon outgrowth. Cell transplantation is considered a promising approach for replacing damaged cells and promoting neuroprotective and neuroregenerative repair, but the effects of the grafted cells on local tissue and the regenerative properties of endogenous neural stem cells (eNSC) in the injured spinal cord are largely unknown. During the last two decades cumulative evidence from diverse animal models has indicated that reactive astrocytes in synergy with transplanted cells could be beneficial for injury in multiple ways, including neuroprotection and axonal growth. In this review we specifically focus on the dual opposing roles of reactive astrocytes in SCI and how they contribute to the creation of a permissive environment when combined with transplanted cells as the influential components for a local regenerative niche. Modulation of reactive astrocyte function might represent an extremely attractive new therapy to enhance the functional outcomes in patients. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

© 2015 AlphaMed Press.


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