Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells and electroacupuncture downregulate the inhibitor molecules and promote the axonal regeneration in the transected spinal cord of rats

Ying Ding, Qing Yan, Jing Wen Ruan, Yan Qing Zhang, Wen Jie Li, Xiang Zeng, Si Fan Huang, Yu Jiao Zhang, Shirlene Wang, Hongxin Dong, Yuan Shan Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Our previous study has reported that electroacupuncture (EA) promotes survival, differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and functional improvement in spinal cord-transected rats. In this study, we further investigated the structural bases of this functional improvement and the potential mechanisms of axonal regeneration in injured spinal cord after MSCs and EA treatment. Five experimental groups, 1) sham control (Sham-control); 2) operated control (Op-control); 3) electroacupuncture treatment (EA); 4) MSCs transplantation (MSCs), and 5) MSCs transplantation combined with electroacupuncture (MSCs + EA), were designed for this study. Western blots and immunohistochemical staining were used to assess the fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) proteins expression. Basso, Beattie, Bresnahan (BBB) locomotion test, cortical motor evoked potentials (MEPs), and anterograde and retrograde tracing were utilized to assess cortical-spinal neuronal projection regeneration and functional recovery. In the MSCs + EA group, increased labeling descending corticospinal tract (CST) projections into the lesion site showed significantly improved BBB scales and enhanced motor evoked potentials after 10 weeks of MSCs transplant and EA treatment. The structural and functional recovery after MSCs + EA treatment may be due to downregulated GFAP and CSPGs protein expression, which prevented axonal degeneration as well as improved axonal regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-491
Number of pages17
JournalCell transplantation
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 20 2011



  • Axonal regeneration
  • Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells
  • Electroacupuncture
  • Spinal cord transection
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation

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