Defining the endogenous niches for cell replacement after spinal cord injury in rats and humans
Funded in: 2012, 2013, 2014
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One of the strategies to restore function after spinal cord injury aims to replace dead or damaged cells, mostly neurons and oligodendrocytes. Endogenous pools of undifferentiated precursors cells represent a putative source for cell replacement for numerous reasons, mostly because they are autologous (and don’t require an immune suppression) and can be present at the site of injury without invasive delivery that is normally associated with other cell sources. Endogenous cell sources in the adult rodent spinal cord include the parenchymal progenitors and ependymal (central canal) cells.
This project has therefore a double objective:
- First, to perform a detailed characterization of the two niches, the parenchymal precursors and the central canal cells, both in rats and humans, in order to characterize them and assess their capacity to give rise to new neural cells after injury.
- Second, to pharmacologically manipulate these cells in rats by locally modulating the endocannabinoid system. Preliminary data indeed show that it is involved in the spinal cord response to injury and is known to participate in stem/precursor cells proliferation, migration and differentiation.
Results of this project could help to determine the real potential of the central canal-region as a niche for endogenous cell replacement in rats and possibly humans. It will also explore the impact of drug treatments on stem/precursor cell function and mostly on functional recovery in normal and injured rats.