PloS one

Distribution and characterization of progenitor cells within the human filum terminale.

PMID 22096566


Filum terminale (FT) is a structure that is intimately associated with conus medullaris, the most caudal part of the spinal cord. It is well documented that certain regions of the adult human central nervous system contains undifferentiated, progenitor cells or multipotent precursors. The primary objective of this study was to describe the distribution and progenitor features of this cell population in humans, and to confirm their ability to differentiate within the neuroectodermal lineage. We demonstrate that neural stem/progenitor cells are present in FT obtained from patients treated for tethered cord. When human or rat FT-derived cells were cultured in defined medium, they proliferated and formed neurospheres in 13 out of 21 individuals. Cells expressing Sox2 and Musashi-1 were found to outline the central canal, and also to be distributed in islets throughout the whole FT. Following plating, the cells developed antigen profiles characteristic of astrocytes (GFAP) and neurons (β-III-tubulin). Addition of PDGF-BB directed the cells towards a neuronal fate. Moreover, the cells obtained from young donors shows higher capacity for proliferation and are easier to expand than cells derived from older donors. The identification of bona fide neural progenitor cells in FT suggests a possible role for progenitor cells in this extension of conus medullaris and may provide an additional source of such cells for possible therapeutic purposes. Filum terminale, human, progenitor cells, neuron, astrocytes, spinal cord.

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