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Open Access Research article

Characterization of adipose-derived stromal/stem cells from the twitcher mouse model of krabbe disease

Xiujuan Zhang1, Julie A Semon1, Shijia Zhang12, Amy L Strong1, Brittni A Scruggs12, Jeffrey M Gimble3 and Bruce A Bunnell124*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

2 Department of Pharmacology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

3 Stem Cell Biology Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA

4 Division of Regenerative Medicine, Tulane National Primate Research Center, Covington, LA 70433, USA

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BMC Cell Biology 2013, 14:20  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-14-20

Published: 16 April 2013



Krabbe disease, also known as globoid cell leukodystrophy, is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disease caused by the genetic deficiency of galactocerebrosidase (GALC), a lysosomal enzyme responsible for the degradation of several glycosphingolipids like psychosine and galactosylceramide. In order to investigate whether GALC deficiency in Krabbe disease affects adipose-derived stromal/stem cell (ASC) properties and if the ASCs could be used as a source of autologous stem cell therapy for patients with Krabbe disease, ASCs isolated from subcutaneous adipose tissue of Twitcher mice (a murine model of Krabbe disease) and their normal wild type littermates were cultured, expanded, and characterized for their cell morphology, surface antigen expression, osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation, colony forming units, growth kinetics, and immune regulatory capacities in vitro.


ASCs from Twitcher mice (TwiASCs), when compared to ASCs from normal mice (WtASCs), have a reduced osteogenic differentiation potential, have less self-replicating and proliferative capacity, although they have the same fibroblast morphologies and cell sizes. However, surprisingly, the TwiASCs demonstrated similar immune-suppressive capacities as their counterparts WtASCs did when they were transwell co-cultured with macrophages in vitro.


This study reveals that Twitcher ASCs exhibit differences in the biologic potential when compared to their counterparts from normal mice. The changes in Twitcher ASCs may be influenced by the GALC deficiency in Twitcher mice. Nevertheless, none of the changes preclude the use of the TwiASCs for autologous applications.

Adipose stem cells; ASCs; Krabbe disease; Twitcher mice; Autologous transplantation