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  • Author or Editor: Helen L. Fillmore x
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R. Mark Richardson, Helen L. Fillmore, Kathryn L. Holloway and William C. Broaddus

Object. Given the success and limitations of human fetal primary neural tissue transplantation, neuronal stem cells (NSCs) that can be adequately expanded in culture have been the focus of numerous attempts to develop a superior source of replacement cells for restorative neurosurgery. To clarify recent progress toward this goal, the transplantation into the adult brain of NSCs, expanded in vitro before grafting, was reviewed.

Methods. Neuronal stem cells can be expanded from a variety of sources, including embryos, fetuses, adult bone marrow, and adult brain tissue. Recent investigations of each of these expanded stem cell types have generated a large body of information along with a great number of unanswered questions regarding the ability of these cells to replace damaged neurons. Expanded NSCs offer many advantages over their primary tissue predecessors, but also may exhibit different functional abilities as grafted cells. Because expanded NSCs will most likely ultimately replace primary tissue grafting in clinical trials, this review was undertaken to focus solely on this distinct body of work and to summarize clearly the existing preclinical data regarding the in vivo successes, limits, and unknowns of using each expanded NSC type when transplanted into the adult brain.

Conclusions. Embryonic stem cell—derived cells have demonstrated appropriate neuronal phenotypes after transplantation into nonneurogenic areas of the adult brain. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for this may lead to similar success with less studied adult neuronal progenitor cells, which offer the potential for autologous NSC transplantation with less risk of tumorigenesis.

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R. Mark Richardson, Amanpreet Singh, Dong Sun, Helen L. Fillmore, Dalton W. Dietrich III and M. Ross Bullock

Approximately 350,000 individuals in the US are affected annually by severe and moderate traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that may result in long-term disability. This rate of injury has produced ~ 3.3 million disabled survivors in the US alone. There is currently no specific treatment available for TBI other than supportive care, but aggressive prehospital resuscitation, rapid triage, and intensive care have reduced mortality rates. With the recent demonstration that neurogenesis occurs in all mammals (including man) throughout adult life, albeit at a low rate, the concept of replacing neurons lost after TBI is now becoming a reality. Experimental rodent models have shown that neurogenesis is accelerated after TBI, especially in juveniles. Two approaches have been followed in these rodent models to test possible therapeutic approaches that could enhance neuronal replacement in humans after TBI. The first has been to define and quantify the phenomenon of de novo hippocampal and cortical neurogenesis after TBI and find ways to enhance this (for example by exogenous trophic factor administration). A second approach has been the transplantation of different types of neural progenitor cells after TBI. In this review the authors discuss some of the processes that follow after acute TBI including the changes in the brain microenvironment and the role of trophic factor dynamics with regard to the effects on endogenous neurogenesis and gliagenesis. The authors also discuss strategies to clinically harness the factors influencing these processes and repair strategies using exogenous neural progenitor cell transplantation. Each strategy is discussed with an emphasis on highlighting the progress and limiting factors relevant to the development of clinical trials of cellular replacement therapy for severe TBI in humans.