Canine epidermal neural crest stem cells: Characterization and potential as therapy candidate for a large animal model of spinal cord injury

Barbara Gericota, Joseph S Anderson, Gaela Mitchell, Dori L Borjesson, Beverly Sturges, Jan Nolta, Maya Sieber-Blum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The discovery of multipotent neural crest-derived stem cells, named epidermal neural crest stem cells (EPI-NCSC), that persist postnatally in an easy-to-access location-the bulge of hair follicles-opens a spectrum of novel opportunities for patient-specific therapies. We present a detailed characterization of canine EPI-NCSC (cEPI-NCSC) from multiple dog breeds and protocols for their isolation and ex vivo expansion. Furthermore, we provide novel tools for research in canines, which currently are still scarce. In analogy to human and mouse EPI-NCSC, the neural crest origin of cEPI-NCSC is shown by their expression of the neural crest stem cell molecular signature and other neural crest-characteristic genes. Similar to human EPI-NCSC, cEPI-NCSC also expressed pluripotency genes. We demonstrated that cEPI-NCSC can generate all major neural crest derivatives. In vitro clonal analyses established multipotency and self-renewal ability of cEPI-NCSC, establishing cEPI-NCSC as multipotent somatic stem cells. A critical analysis of the literature on canine spinal cord injury (SCI) showed the need for novel treatments and suggested that cEPI-NCSC represent viable candidates for cell-based therapies in dog SCI, particularly for chondrodystrophic dogs. This notion is supported by the close ontological relationship between neural crest stem cells and spinal cord stem cells. Thus, cEPI-NCSC promise to offer not only a potential treatment for canines but also an attractive and realistic large animal model for human SCI. Taken together, we provide the groundwork for the development of a novel cell-based therapy for a condition with extremely poor prognosis and no available effective treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-345
Number of pages12
JournalStem cells translational medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Adult stem cells
  • Canine epidermal neural crest stem cells
  • Dog model
  • Hair follicle
  • Neural crest
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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