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The differentiation of human placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells into dopaminergic cells in vitro


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) constitute an interesting cellular source to promote brain regeneration after Parkinson’s disease. MSCs have significant advantages over other stem cell types, and greater potential for immediate clinical application. The aim of this study was to investigate whether MSCs from the human placenta could be induced to differentiate into dopaminergic cells. MSCs from the human placenta were isolated by digestion and density gradient fractionation, and their cell surface glycoproteins were analyzed by flow cytometry. These MSCs were cultured under conditions promoting differetiation into adipocytes and osteoblasts. Using a cocktail that includes basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), all trans retinoic acid (RA), ascorbic acid (AA) and 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX), the MSCs were induced in vitro to become dopamine (DA) neurons. Then, the expression of the mRNA for the Nestin and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) genes was assayed via RT-PCR. The expression of the Nestin, dopamine transporter (DAT), neuronal nuclear protein (NeuN) and TH proteins was determined via immunofluorescence. The synthesized and secreted DA was determined via ELISA. We found that MSCs from the human placenta exhibited a fibroblastoid morphology. Flow cytometric analyses showed that the MSCs were positive for CD44 and CD29, and negative for CD34, CD45, CD106 and HLA-DR. Moreover, they could be induced into adipocytes and osteocytes. When the MSCs were induced with bFGF, RA, AA and IBMX, they showed a change in morphology to that of neuronal-like cells. The induced cells expressed Nestin and TH mRNA, and the Nestin, DAT, NeuN and TH proteins, and synthesized and secreted DA. Our results suggest that MSCs from the human placenta have the ability to differentiate into dopaminergic cells.



ascorbic acid


basic fibroblast growth factor




dopamine transporter


Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium/F12


embryonic stem cells


fetal bovine serum




mesenchymal stem cells


neuronal nuclear protein


phosphate-buffered saline


all trans retinoic acid


tyrosine hydroxylase


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Correspondence to Dong-Mei He.

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Chen, L., He, D. & Zhang, Y. The differentiation of human placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells into dopaminergic cells in vitro . Cell Mol Biol Lett 14, 528–536 (2009).

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Key words

  • Mesenchymal stem cell
  • Human
  • Placenta
  • Differentiation
  • Dopamine