Biphasic electrical stimulation: A strategy may bring hope to spinal cord injury patients

August 24, 2013, Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine

Researchers at the Beihang University School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering, led by Dr. Yubo Fan, have discovered that Biphasic Electrical stimulation (BES), a non-chemical procedure, may be used as a strategy for preventing cell apoptosis in stem cell-based transplantation therapy. The article describing their studies will be published in the August 2013 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine. The scientists believe that their technique will be used for spinal cord injury patients in the future.

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a serious disease of the . According to Spinal Cord Injury Facts & Statistics, 250,000 Americans are injured patients. Approximately 52% of spinal cord injured individuals are considered as paraplegic, and 47% patients are quadriplegic. In addition, 11,000 new injuries occur each year, and 82% are male.

Transplantation of Stem Cells is a potential clinical therapy for repair and regeneration of injured spinal cord, and brings new hope for patients. However, the survival rate of transplanted cells is relatively low because the cells are particularly vulnerable to apoptosis in the spinal cord. Factors proposed for causing such low survival include immune reactions, limited trophic factors and hypoxia. It appears that a lack of adequate growth factors plays an important role in the survival of transplanted cells. "We've shown for the very first time that BES may provide insight into preventing growth factor deprivation-triggered apoptosis in olfactory bulb neural precursor cells (OB NPCs)," said Yubo Fan, professor of Biological Science and Medical Engineering at Beihang and senior author. "These findings suggest that BES may thus be used as a strategy to improve cell survival and prevent in stem cell-based transplantation therapies," Fan explained. The results may guide future efforts to restore functions lost after spinal cord injury.

The team of researchers investigated the protective effects of BES on growth factor-deprived apoptosis in OB NPCs. The NPCs were exposed to 12 h of BES. The results were that BES enhanced cell survival and prevented the apoptosis of NPCs caused by growth factor deprivation. The anti-apoptotic effect of BES was dependent on the activation of the PI3K/Akt signaling cascade and an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) production. "What was especially surprising and exciting was that a non-chemical procedure can prevent apoptosis in stem cells therapy for spinal cord injury patients," Fan said. "How BES precisely regulates the survival of exogenous stem cells is still unknown, but will be an extremely novel area of research on spinal cord injury in the future," Dr. Fan added.

Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine, said "The fact that Biphasic Electrical Stimulation can improve the survival of neural precursor cells is truly exciting and will provide the basis for future studies that could lead to novel therapies for patients with spinal cord injury. I look forward to future advances in this field".

Explore further: Technique to promote nerve regeneration after spinal cord injury restores bladder function in rats

Related Stories

Technique to promote nerve regeneration after spinal cord injury restores bladder function in rats

June 25, 2013
Using a novel technique to promote the regeneration of nerve cells across the site of severe spinal cord injury, researchers have restored bladder function in paralyzed adult rats, according to a study in the June 26 issue ...

Stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury

September 25, 2012
Stem cells are considered promising agents for the recovery of spinal cord injuries. European scientists explore their abilities and plan future therapeutic strategies.

Patients treated with own olfactory ensheathing cells realize neurologic improvement

June 28, 2013
A team of researchers in Poland who treated three of six paraplegics with spinal cord injury using transplanted olfactory ensheathing cells found that the three treated patients showed neurological improvement and no adverse ...

Researchers restore immune function in spinal injured mice

August 6, 2013
In a new study, researchers at The Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center show that is possible to restore immune function in spinal injured mice.

Spine function improves following cell replacement therapy with fetal human stem cells

May 27, 2013
Human foetal stem cell grafts improve both motor and sensory functions in rats suffering from a spinal cord injury, according to research published this week in BioMed Central's open access journal Stem Cell Research and ...

Evidence for spinal membrane as a source of stem cells may advance spinal cord treatment

October 28, 2011
Italian and Spanish scientists studying the use of stem cells for treating spinal cord injuries have provided the first evidence to show that meninges, the membrane which envelops the central nervous system, is a potential ...

Recommended for you

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.