Embryonic stem cell-derived L1 overexpressing neural aggregates enhance recovery after spinal cord injury in mice

Yi Fang Cui, Jin Chong Xu, Gunnar Hargus, Igor Jakovcevski, Melitta Schachner, Christian Bernreuther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


An obstacle to early stem cell transplantation into the acutely injured spinal cord is poor survival of transplanted cells. Transplantation of embryonic stem cells as substrate adherent embryonic stem cell-derived neural aggregates (SENAs) consisting mainly of neurons and radial glial cells has been shown to enhance survival of grafted cells in the injured mouse brain. In the attempt to promote the beneficial function of these SENAs, murine embryonic stem cells constitutively overexpressing the neural cell adhesion molecule L1 which favors axonal growth and survival of grafted and imperiled cells in the inhibitory environment of the adult mammalian central nervous system were differentiated into SENAs and transplanted into the spinal cord three days after compression lesion. Mice transplanted with L1 overexpressing SENAs showed improved locomotor function when compared to mice injected with wild-type SENAs. L1 overexpressing SENAs showed an increased number of surviving cells, enhanced neuronal differentiation and reduced glial differentiation after transplantation when compared to SENAs not engineered to overexpress L1. Furthermore, L1 overexpressing SENAs rescued imperiled host motoneurons and parvalbumin-positive interneurons and increased numbers of catecholaminergic nerve fibers distal to the lesion. In addition to encouraging the use of embryonic stem cells for early therapy after spinal cord injury L1 overexpression in the microenvironment of the lesioned spinal cord is a novel finding in its functions that would make it more attractive for pre-clinical studies in spinal cord regeneration and most likely other diseases of the nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17126
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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