Background: Neurovascular unit restoration is crucial for nerve regeneration, especially in critical gaps of injured peripheral nerve. Multipotent vascular stem cells (MVSCs) harvested from an adult blood vessel are involved in vascular remodeling; however, the therapeutic benefit for nerve regeneration is not clear. Methods: MVSCs were isolated from rats expressing green fluorescence protein (GFP), expanded, mixed with Matrigel matrix, and loaded into the nerve conduits. A nerve autograft or a nerve conduit (with acellular matrigel or MVSCs in matrigel) was used to bridge a transected sciatic nerve (10-mm critical gap) in rats. The functional motor recovery and cell fate in the regenerated nerve were investigated to understand the therapeutic benefit. Results: MVSCs expressed markers such as Sox 17 and Sox10 and could differentiate into neural cells in vitro. One month following MVSC transplantation, the compound muscle action potential (CMAP) significantly increased as compared to the acellular group. MVSCs facilitated the recruitment of Schwann cell to regenerated axons. The transplanted cells, traced by GFP, differentiated into perineurial cells around the bundles of regenerated myelinated axons. In addition, MVSCs enhanced tight junction formation as a part of the blood-nerve barrier (BNB). Furthermore, MVSCs differentiated into perivascular cells and enhanced microvessel formation within regenerated neurovascular bundles. Conclusions: In rats with peripheral nerve injuries, the transplantation of MVSCs into the nerve conduits improved the recovery of neuromuscular function; MVSCs differentiated into perineural cells and perivascular cells and enhanced the formation of tight junctions in perineural BNB. This study demonstrates the in vivo therapeutic benefit of adult MVSCs for peripheral nerve regeneration and provides insight into the role of MVSCs in BNB regeneration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Molecular Medicine
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
- Cell Biology