Neurogenesis occurs throughout life but significantly decreases with age. Human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells (HUCB MNCs) have been shown to increase the proliferation of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus and the subgranular zone of aging rats (Bachstetter et al., BMC Neurosci 9:22, 2008), but it is unclear which fraction or combination of the HUCB MNCs are responsible for neurogenesis.
To address this issue, scientists from University of South Florida examined the ability of HUCB MNCs, CD4+, CD8+, CD3+, CD14+, and CD133+ subpopulations to increase proliferation of NSCs both in vitro and in vivo. NSCs were first grown in conditioned media generated from HUCB cultures, and survival and proliferation of NSC were determined with the fluorescein diacetate/propidium iodide and 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine incorporation assays, respectively.
In a second study, we injected HUCB cells intravenously in young and aged Fisher 344 rats and examined proliferation in the DG at 1 week (study 2.1) and 2 weeks (study 2.2) postinjection. The effects of the HUCB MNC fractions on dendritic spine density and microglial activation were also assessed. HUCB T cells (CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ cells) induced proliferation of NSCs (p < 0.001) and increased cell survival. In vivo, HUCB-derived CD4+ cells increased NSC proliferation at both 1 and 2 weeks while also enhancing the density of dendritic spines at 1 week and decreasing inflammation at 2 weeks postinjection.
Collectively, these data indicate that a single injection of HUCB-derived T cells induces long-lasting effects and may therefore have tremendous potential to improve aging neurogenesis.