Human mesenchymal stem cells express neural genes, suggesting a neural predisposition

Netta R. Blondheim, Yossef S. Levy, Tali Ben-Zur, Alex Burshtein, Tirza Cherlow, Inna Kan, Ran Barzilai, Merav Bahat-Stromza, Yael Barhum, Shlomo Bulvik, Eldad Melamed, Daniel Offen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Because of their unique attributes of plasticity and accessibility, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may find use for therapy of neurodegenerative disorders. Our previous studies of adult human MSCs demonstrated that these cells express an extensive assortment of neural genes at a low but clearly detectable level. Here, we report expression of 12 neural genes, 8 genes related to the neuro-dopaminergic system, and 11 transcription factors with neural significance by human MSCs. Our results suggest that, as opposed to cells that do not express neural genes, human MSCs are predisposed to differentiate to neuronal and glial lineages, given the proper conditions. Our findings add a new dimension in which to view adult stem cell plasticity, and may explain the relative ease with which MSCs, transplanted into the central nervous system (CNS) differentiate to a variety of functional neural cell types. Our results further promote the possibility that adult human MSCs are promising candidates for cell-based therapy of neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-164
Number of pages24
JournalStem Cells and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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