Generation of Induced Neural Stem Cells from Peripheral Mononuclear Cells and Differentiation Toward Dopaminergic Neuron Precursors for Transplantation Studies

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Parkinson's disease (PD) is caused by degeneration of dopaminergic (DA) neurons at the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) in the ventral mesencephalon (VM). Cell replacement therapy holds great promise for treatment of PD. Recently, induced neural stem cells (iNSCs) have emerged as a potential candidate for cell replacement therapy due to the reduced risk of tumor formation and the plasticity to give rise to region-specific neurons and glia. iNSCs can be reprogrammed from autologous somatic cellular sources, such as fibroblasts, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNCs) and various other types of cells. Compared with other types of somatic cells, PBMNCs are an appealing starter cell type because of the ease to access and expand in culture. Sendai virus (SeV), an RNA non-integrative virus, encoding reprogramming factors including human OCT3/4, SOX2, KLF4 and c-MYC, has a negative-sense, single-stranded, non-segmented genome that does not integrate into host genome, but only replicates in the cytoplasm of infected cells, offering an efficient and safe vehicle for reprogramming. In this study, we describe a protocol in which iNSCs are obtained by reprogramming PBMNCs, and differentiated into specialized VM DA neurons by a two-stage method. Then DA precursors are transplanted into unilaterally 6-hyroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-lesioned PD mouse models to evaluate the safety and efficacy for treatment of PD. This method provides a platform to investigate the functions and therapeutic effects of patient-specific DA neural cells in vitro and in vivo.