Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological disease that selectively affects the motor neurons. The details of the mechanisms of selective motor-neuron death remain unknown and no effective therapy has been developed. We investigated the therapy with bone-marrow mononuclear cells (BMMC) in a mouse model of ALS (SOD1G93A mice).
We injected 106 BMMC into the lumbar portion of the spinal cord of SOD1G93A mice in presymptomatic (9 weeks old) and symptomatic (14 weeks old) phases. In each condition, we analyzed the progression of disease and the lifespan of the animals.
We observed a mild transitory delay in the disease progression in the animals injected with BMMC in the presymptomatic phase. However, we observed no increase in the lifespan. When we injected BMMC in the symptomatic phase, we observed no difference in the animals’ lifespan or in the disease progression. Immunohistochemistry for NeuN showed a decrease in the number of motor neurons during the course of the disease, and this decrease was not affected by either treatment. Using different strategies to track the BMMC, we noted that few cells remained in the spinal cord after transplantation. This observation could explain why the BMMC therapy had only a transitory effect.
This is the first report of intraspinal BMMC therapy in a mouse model of ALS. We conclude this cellular therapy has only a mild transitory effect when performed in the presymptomatic phase of the disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13287-016-0293-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.