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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 820821, 13 pages
Research Article

Expression of Neural Markers by Undifferentiated Rat Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Dipartimento di Neuroscienze e Tecnologie Biomediche, Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Via Cadore 48, 20052 Monza, Italy

Received 14 March 2012; Revised 13 September 2012; Accepted 13 September 2012

Academic Editor: Michael D. Coleman

Copyright © 2012 Dana Foudah et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The spontaneous expression of neural markers by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has been considered to be a demonstration of MSCs’ predisposition to differentiate towards neural lineages. In view of their application in cell therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, it is very important to deepen the knowledge about this distinctive biological property of MSCs. In this study, we evaluated the expression of neuronal and glial markers in undifferentiated rat MSCs (rMSCs) at different culture passages (from early to late). rMSCs spontaneously expressed neural markers depending on culture passage, and they were coexpressed or not with the neural progenitor marker nestin. In contrast, the number of rMSCs expressing mesengenic differentiation markers was very low or even completely absent. Moreover, rMSCs at late culture passages were not senescent cells and maintained the MSC immunophenotype. However, their differentiation capabilities were altered. In conclusion, our results support the concept of MSCs as multidifferentiated cells and suggest the existence of immature and mature neurally fated rMSC subpopulations. A possible correlation between specific MSC subpopulations and specific neural lineages could optimize the use of MSCs in cell transplantation therapy for the treatment of neurological diseases.