Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in a significant amount of cell death in the brain. Unfortunately, the adult mammalian brain possesses little regenerative potential following injury and little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma. Reprogramming adult cells to generate induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSCs) has opened new therapeutic opportunities to generate neurons in a non-neurogenic regions in the cortex. In this study we showed that retroviral mediated expression of four transcription factors, Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc, cooperatively reprogrammed reactive glial cells into iPSCs in the adult neocortex following TBI. These iPSCs further differentiated into a large number of neural stem cells, which further differentiated into neurons and glia in situ, and filled up the tissue cavity induced by TBI. The induced neurons showed a typical neuronal morphology with axon and dendrites, and exhibited action potential. Our results report an innovative technology to transform reactive glia into a large number of functional neurons in their natural environment of neocortex without embryo involvement and without the need to grow cells outside the body and then graft them back to the brain. Thus this technology offers hope for personalized regenerative cell therapies for repairing damaged brain.
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