Region-specific Differentiation Potential of Adult Rat Spinal Cord Neural Stem/Precursors and Their Plasticity in Response to In Vitro Manipulation


Iris Kulbatski and Charles H. Tator


This study characterized the differentiation of neural stem/precursor cells (NSPCs) isolated from different levels of the spinal cord (cervical vs lumbar cord) and different regions along the neuraxis (brain vs cervical spinal cord) of adult male Wistar enhanced green fluorescent protein rats. The differentiation of cervical spinal cord NSPCs was further examined after variation of time in culture, addition of growth factors, and changes in cell matrix and serum concentration. Brain NSPCs did not differ from cervical cord NSPCs in the percentages of neurons, astrocytes, or oligodendrocytes but produced 26.9% less radial glia. Lumbar cord NSPCs produced 30.8% fewer radial glia and 6.9% more neurons compared with cervical cord NSPCs. Spinal cord NSPC differentiation was amenable to manipulation by growth factors and changes in in vitro conditions. This is the first study to directly compare the effect of growth factors, culturing time, serum concentration, and cell matrix on rat spinal cord NSPCs isolated, propagated, and differentiated under identical conditions.