The spontaneous expression of neural markers, already demonstrated in bone marrow (BM) mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), has been considered as evidence of the MSCs' predisposition to differentiate toward neural lineages, supporting their use in stem cell-based therapy for neural repair. In this study we have evaluated, by immunocytochemistry, immunoblotting, and flow cytometry experiments, the expression of neural markers in undifferentiated MSCs from different sources: human adipose stem cells (hASCs), human skin-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hS-MSCs), human periodontal ligament stem cells (hPDLSCs,) and human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs). Our results demonstrate that the neuronal markers βIII-tubulin and NeuN, unlike other evaluated markers, are spontaneously expressed by a very high percentage of undifferentiated hASCs, hS-MSCs, hPDLSCs, and hDPSCs. Conversely, the neural progenitor marker nestin is expressed only by a high percentage of undifferentiated hPDLSCs and hDPSCs. Our results suggest that the expression of βIII-tubulin and NeuN could be a common feature of stem cells and not exclusive to neuronal cells. This could result in a reassessment of the use of βIII-tubulin and NeuN as the only evidence proving neuronal differentiation. Further studies will be necessary to elucidate the relevance of the spontaneous expression of these markers in stem cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy