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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have gained considerable interest due to their potential use in cell therapies and tissue engineering. They have been reported to differentiate into various anchorage-dependent cell types, including bone, cartilage, and tendon. Our focus is on the differentiation of MSCs into neuron-like cells through the use of soluble chemical stimuli or specific growth factor supplements. The resulting cells appear to adopt neural phenotypes and express some typical neuronal markers, however, their electrophysiological properties and synaptic function remains unclear.This mini-review illustrates how particular characteristics, electrophysiological properties, and synaptic functions of MSCs change during their neuronal differentiation. In particular we focus on changes in ion currents, ion channels, synaptic communication, and neurotransmitter release. We also highlight conflicting results, caused by inconsistencies in the experimental conditions used and in the methodologies adopted.We conclude that there is insufficient data and that further, carefully controlled investigations are required in order to ascertain whether MSC-derived neuron-like cells can exhibit the necessary neuronal functions to become clinically relevant for use in neural repairs.

Original publication

DOI

10.5301/ijao.5000085

Type

Journal article

Journal

The International journal of artificial organs

Publication Date

05/2012

Volume

35

Pages

323 - 337

Addresses

Center of Regenerative Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital, Dalian Medical University, Dalian - People’s Republic of China.

Keywords

Neurons, Cells, Cultured, Animals, Humans, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Nerve Growth Factors, Ion Channels, Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation, Tissue Engineering, Regenerative Medicine, Synaptic Transmission, Membrane Potentials, Phenotype, Neurogenesis, Mesenchymal Stromal Cells, Biomarkers