Schwann-like cell differentiation of rat adipose-derived stem cells by indirect co-culture with Schwann cells in vitro

Y. Wei, K. Gong, Z. Zheng, L. Liu, Aijun Wang, L. Zhang, Q. Ao, Y. Gong, X. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Objectives: Schwann cell (SC) transplantation is a promising therapy for peripheral nerve transaction, however, clinical use of SCs is limited due to their very limited availability. Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) have been identified as an alternative source of adult stem cells in recent years. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using ADSCs as a source of stem cells for differentiation into Schwann-like cells by an indirect co-culture approach, in vitro.Materials and methods: Multilineage differentiation potential of the obtained ADSCs was assayed by testing their ability to differentiate into osteoblasts and adipocytes. The ADSCs were co-cultured with SCs to be induced into Schwann-like cells through proximity, using a Millicell system. Expression of typical SC markers S-100, GFAP and P75NTR of the treated ADSCs was determined by immunocytochemical staining, western blotting and RT-PCR. Myelination capacity of the differentiated ADSCs (dADSCs) was evaluated in dADSC/dorsal root ganglia neuron (DRGN) co-cultures.Results: The treated ADSCs adopted a spindle shaped-like morphology after co-cultured with SCs for 6-days. All results of immunocytochemical staining, western blotting and RT-PCR showed that the treated cells expressed S-100, GFAP and P75NTR, indications of differentiation. dADSCs could form Schwann-like cell myelin in co-culture with DRGNs. Undifferentiated ADSCs (uADSCs) did not form myelin compared to DRGNs cultured alone, but could produce neurite extension.Conclusions: These results demonstrate that this indirect co-culture microenvironment could induce ADSCs to differentiate into Schwann-like cells in vitro, which may be beneficial for treatment of peripheral nerve injuries in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-616
Number of pages11
JournalCell Proliferation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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