Interaction of NG2+ glial progenitors and microglia/macrophages from the injured spinal cord

Junfang Wu, Soonmoon Yoo, Donna Wilcock, Judith M. Lytle, Philberta Y. Leung, Carol A. Colton, Jean R. Wrathall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Spinal cord contusion produces a central lesion surrounded by a peripheral rim of residual white matter. Despite stimulation of NG2+ progenitor cell proliferation, the lesion remains devoid of normal glia chronically after spinal cord injury (SCI). To investigate potential cell-cell interactions of the predominant cells in the lesion at 3 days after injury, we used magnetic activated cell sorting to purify NG2+ progenitors and OX42 + microglia/macrophages from contused rat spinal cord. Purified NG2+ cells from the injured cord grew into spherical masses when cultured in defined medium with FGF2 plus GGF2. The purified OX42+ cells did not form spheroids and significantly reduced sphere growth by NG2 + cells in co-cultures. Conditioned medium from these OX42 + cells, unlike that from normal peritoneal macrophages or astrocytes also inhibited growth of NG2+ cells, suggesting inhibition by secreted factors. Expression analysis of freshly purified OX42+ cells for a panel of six genes for secreted factors showed expression of several that could contribute to inhibition of NG2+ cells. Further, the pattern of expression of four of these, TNFα, TSP1, TIMP1, MMP9, in sequential coronal tissue segments from a 2 cm length of cord centered on the injury epicenter correlated with the expression of Iba1, a marker gene for OX42 + cells, strongly suggesting a potential regional influence by activated microglia/macrophages on NG2+ cells in vivo after SCI. Thus, the nonreplacement of lost glial cells in the central lesion zone may involve, at least in part, inhibitory factors produced by microglia/macrophages that are concentrated within the lesion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-422
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Cell culture
  • Glial progenitors
  • MACS
  • Macrophage
  • NG2
  • Proliferation
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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