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Differentiation of human bone marrow stem cells into cells with a neural phenotype: diverse effects of two specific treatments

Franca Scintu1, Camilla Reali1, Rita Pillai1, Manuela Badiali2, Maria Adele Sanna2, Francesca Argiolu3, Maria Serafina Ristaldi4 and Valeria Sogos1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Cytomorphology, University of Cagliari, Italy

2 Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, Ospedale Regionale per le Microcitemie, Cagliari, Italy

3 Department of Biomedical Science and Biotechnology, University of Cagliari, Italy

4 INN, CNR, Cagliari, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2006, 7:14  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-7-14

Published: 16 February 2006



It has recently been demonstrated that the fate of adult cells is not restricted to their tissues of origin. In particular, it has been shown that bone marrow stem cells can give rise to cells of different tissues, including neural cells, hepatocytes and myocytes, expanding their differentiation potential.


In order to identify factors able to lead differentiation of stem cells towards cells of neural lineage, we isolated stromal cells from human adult bone marrow (BMSC). Cells were treated with: (1) TPA, forskolin, IBMX, FGF-1 or (2) retinoic acid and 2-mercaptoethanol (BME). Treatment (1) induced differentiation into neuron-like cells within 24 hours, while a longer treatment was required when using retinoic acid and BME. Morphological modifications were more dramatic after treatment (1) compared with treatment (2). In BMSC both treatments induced the expression of neural markers such as NF, GFAP, TUJ-1 and neuron-specific enolase. Moreover, the transcription factor Hes1 increased after both treatments.


Our study may contribute towards the identification of mechanisms involved in the differentiation of stem cells towards cells of neural lineage.