Fat cells restore spinal cord function after injury

December 11th, 2008 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 11 (IANS) Mature fat cells helped mice recover from spinal cord injuries, according to a promising new study.They could become a source for cell replacement therapy to treat central nervous system disorders in humans.

Yuki Ohta of the St. Mariana University School of Medicine, Kawasaki, Japan, who led the study, said fat or adipose-derived stem cells have been shown to differentiate into neuronal cells in a test tube setting.

Now, for the first time fat cells have been shown to successfully differentiate into neuronal cells in in-vivo (animal models) tests. The fat cells are grown under culture conditions that result in their becoming de-differentiated fat (DFAT) cells, according to a St Mariana release.

“These cells, called DFAT cells, are plentiful and can be easily obtained from adipose tissue without discomfort and represent autologous (same patient) tissue,” said Ohta.

Tests in animal models confirmed that the injected cells survived without the aid of immunosuppression drugs and that the DFAT-grafted animals showed significantly better motor function than controls, said Ohta and colleagues.

“We concluded that DFAT-derived neurotrophic factors contributed to promotion of functional recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI),” said Ohta.

“Transplanting DFAT cells into SCI rats significantly promoted the recovery of their hind limb function.”

“These studies demonstrate the ability to obtain stem cells from a patient’s own fat that can help repair injury to the spinal cord,” said Paul R. Sanberg, University of South Florida Health, and joint editor-in-chief of Cell Transplantation, which published the report.

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