Dopaminergic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells-Utilization of bioassay for tyrosine hydroxylase expression

Inna Kan, Tali Ben-Zur, Yael Barhum, Yossef S. Levy, Alex Burstein, Tirza Charlow, Shlomo Bulvik, Eldad Melamed, Daniel Offen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder, caused by a selective loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. In PD, the best therapeutic modalities cannot halt the degeneration. The selective hallmark pathology and the lack of effective treatment make PD an appropriate candidate for cell replacement therapy. Adult autologous bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been investigated as candidates for cell replacement strategies. Several laboratories, including ours, have induced MSCs into neuron-like cells demonstrating a variety of neuronal markers including dopaminergic characteristics, such as the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). This project aimed to induce MSCs into mature dopamine secreting cells and to generate a bioassay to evaluate the induction. For that purpose, we created a reporter vector containing a promoter of TH, the rate-limiting enzyme in the dopamine synthesis and red fluorescent protein DsRed2. Transfection of human neuroblastoma, dopamine synthesizing, SH-SY5Y cells confirmed the reliability of the constructed reporter plasmid. Following dopaminergic differentiation of the transfected human MSCs cells, TH expressing cells were identified and quantified using flow cytometry. Further study revealed that not only did the differentiated cells activate TH promoter but they also expressed TH protein and secreted dopamine. The reported results indicate that MSCs may be primed in vitro towards a dopaminergic fate offering the promise of innovative therapy for currently incurable human disorders, including PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-33
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine
  • Dopaminergic differentiation
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Tyrosine hydroxylase
  • l-Dopa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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