ARTICLE | Targets & Mechanisms

An acid boost to SCI therapies

September 9, 2010 7:00 AM UTC

In animals with spinal cord injury, the efficacy of stem cell transplants is limited by their tendency to differentiate into astrocytes instead of neurons. A team of Japanese researchers has overcome this obstacle by showing that valproic acid can both promote neuronal differentiation of neural stem cell transplants in vivo and help the recovery of motor function in mouse models of SCI.1

Proinflammatory cytokines and other molecules upregulated at the site of an injured spinal cord cause neural stem cells (NSCs) to differentiate into astrocytes. This process helps form an astroglial scar that plays a protective role during healing, but the scars also secrete factors that limit the physical and functional recovery of damaged nerves...