Astrocyte-like cells derived from human oral mucosa stem cells provide neuroprotection in vitro and in vivo

Javier Ganz, Ina Arie, Tali Ben-Zur, Michal Dadon-Nachum, Sammy Pour, Shareef Araidy, Sandu Pitaru, Daniel Offen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Human oral mucosa stem cells (hOMSC) are a recently described neural crest-derived stem cell population. Therapeutic quantities of potent hOMSC can be generated from small biopsies obtained by minimally invasive procedures. Our objective was to evaluate the potential of hOMSC to differentiate into astrocyte-like cells and provide peripheral neuroprotection. We induced hOMSC differentiation into cells showing an astrocyte-like morphology that expressed characteristic astrocyte markers as glial fibrillary acidic protein, S100β, and the excitatory amino acid transporter 1 and secreted neurotrophic factors (NTF) such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, and insulin-like growth factor 1. Conditioned medium of the induced cells rescued motor neurons from hypoxia or oxidative stress in vitro, suggesting a neuroprotective effect mediated by soluble factors. Given the neuronal support (NS) ability of the cells, the differentiated cells were termed hOMSC-NS. Rats subjected to sciatic nerve injury and transplanted with hOMSC-NS showed improved motor function after transplantation. At the graft site we found the transplanted cells, increased levels of NTF, and a significant preservation of functional neuromuscular junctions, as evidenced by colocalization of α-bungarotoxin and synaptophysin. Our findings show for the first time that hOMSC-NS generated from oral mucosa exhibit neuroprotective effects in vitro and in vivo and point to their future therapeutic use in neural disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-386
Number of pages12
JournalStem cells translational medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytes
  • Cell therapy
  • Neural differentiation
  • Oral mucosa stem cells


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