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Assessment of neuropathic pain and motor and somatosensory functions after stem cell transplantation in rat spinal cord injury model

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Chary Ely Martin Marquez Batista
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Medicina (FM/SBD)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Guilherme Alves Lepski; Paulo Sérgio Boggio; Alexandre Fogaça Cristante; Rubens Gisbert Cury
Advisor: Guilherme Alves Lepski

Neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury (SCI) is a complex condition which responds poorly to usual treatments. Cell transplantation represents a promising therapy; nevertheless, the ideal cell type in terms of neurogenic potential and effectiveness against pain remains largely controversial. Thus, the objective of the present study was to evaluate the ability of fetal neural stem cells (fNSC) to relieve chronic pain and, secondarily, to evaluate the effects on motor recovery. For this purpose, a pilot was initially designed to define the best animal model; accordingly, Wistar rats were submitted to traumatic spinal cord injury of mild or moderate intensity (pendulum height 12.5mm and 25mm, respectively) using the NYU Impactor. The results indicated that spinal cord injury of moderate intensity is a good model for the study of central neuropathic pain, because in addition to a motor function deficit and painful sensation more pronounced than the animals submitted to mild injury, the animals remained stable throughout the study. Additionally, sensitive deficits were observed from the first days after the injury and lasted eight weeks, enabling the objective of the work. Based on the pilot result, Wistar rats were submitted to moderate spinal cord injury; seven days after spinal cord injury, immunosuppression with cyclosporine was initiated; ten days after injury the animals received intra-spinal injections of culture medium (sham group) or fNSC extracted from the telencephalic vesicles (TV group) or from the ventral medulla (VM group) of E14 embryos of the same species. Behavioral and pain assessment were performed weekly during eight weeks. Thereafter, spinal cords were processed for immunofluorescence, and transplanted fetal cells were quantified by stereology. The results showed improvement of thermal hyperalgesia in TV group after the fifth week of transplantation (p < 0.001) and in VM group after the fourth week (p < 0.001). Moreover, mechanical allodynia improved in both TV and VM groups at the 8th week (TV p < 0.05 and VM p < 0.01 compared to sham). No significant motor recovery was observed in TV and VM groups when compared to sham group. Stereological analyses showed that ~70% of TV and VM cells differentiated into NeuN+ neurons, with high proportion of enkephalinergic and GABAergic cells in the TV group (44% and 42%, respectively) and enkephalinergic and Serotoninergic cells in the VM group (50% and 47%, respectively). Our study suggests that neuronal precursors from the TV and VM, once implanted into the injured spinal cord, maturate into different neuronal subtypes, mainly GABAergic, serotoninergic, and enkephalinergic, and both precursors were able to alleviate pain, despite no significant motor recovery (AU)