Publications

2018
Nagy N, Barad C, Hotta R, Bhave S, Arciero E, Dora D, Goldstein AM. Collagen 18 and agrin are secreted by neural crest cells to remodel their microenvironment and regulate their migration during enteric nervous system development. Development. 2018;145 (9).Abstract
The enteric nervous system (ENS) arises from neural crest cells that migrate, proliferate, and differentiate into enteric neurons and glia within the intestinal wall. Many extracellular matrix (ECM) components are present in the embryonic gut, but their role in regulating ENS development is largely unknown. Here, we identify heparan sulfate proteoglycan proteins, including collagen XVIII (Col18) and agrin, as important regulators of enteric neural crest-derived cell (ENCDC) development. In developing avian hindgut, Col18 is expressed at the ENCDC wavefront, while agrin expression occurs later. Both proteins are normally present around enteric ganglia, but are absent in aganglionic gut. Using chick-mouse intestinal chimeras and enteric neurospheres, we show that vagal- and sacral-derived ENCDCs from both species secrete Col18 and agrin. Whereas glia express Col18 and agrin, enteric neurons only express the latter. Functional studies demonstrate that Col18 is permissive whereas agrin is strongly inhibitory to ENCDC migration, consistent with the timing of their expression during ENS development. We conclude that ENCDCs govern their own migration by actively remodeling their microenvironment through secretion of ECM proteins.
2017
Belkind-Gerson J, Graham HK, Reynolds J, Hotta R, Nagy N, Cheng L, Kamionek M, Shi HN, Aherne CM, Goldstein AM. Colitis promotes neuronal differentiation of Sox2+ and PLP1+ enteric cells. Sci Rep. 2017;7 (1) :2525.Abstract
Mechanisms mediating adult enteric neurogenesis are largely unknown. Using inflammation-associated neurogenesis models and a transgenic approach, we aimed to understand the cell-source for new neurons in infectious and inflammatory colitis. Dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) and Citrobacter rodentium colitis (CC) was induced in adult mice and colonic neurons were quantified. Sox2GFP and PLP1GFP mice confirmed the cell-type specificity of these markers. Sox2CreER:YFP and PLP1creER:tdT mice were used to determine the fate of these cells after colitis. Sox2 expression was investigated in colonic neurons of human patients with Clostridium difficile or ulcerative colitis. Both DSS and CC led to increased colonic neurons. Following colitis in adult Sox2CreER:YFP mice, YFP initially expressed predominantly by glia becomes expressed by neurons following colitis, without observable DNA replication. Similarly in PLP1CreER:tdT mice, PLP1 cells that co-express S100b but not RET also give rise to neurons following colitis. In human colitis, Sox2-expressing neurons increase from 1-2% to an average 14% in colitis. The new neurons predominantly express calretinin, thus appear to be excitatory. These results suggest that colitis promotes rapid enteric neurogenesis in adult mice and humans through differentiation of Sox2- and PLP1-expressing cells, which represent enteric glia and/or neural progenitors. Further defining neurogenesis will improve understanding and treatment of injury-associated intestinal motility/sensory disorders.
Cheng LS, Hotta R, Graham HK, Belkind-Gerson J, Nagy N, Goldstein AM. Postnatal human enteric neuronal progenitors can migrate, differentiate, and proliferate in embryonic and postnatal aganglionic gut environments. Pediatr Res. 2017.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Enteric neural stem/progenitor cells (ENSCs) offer an innovative approach to treating Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) and other enteric neuropathies. However, postnatal-derived human ENSCs have not been thoroughly characterized and their behavior in the embryonic and postnatal intestinal environment is unknown. METHODS: ENSCs were isolated from the intestines of 25 patients undergoing bowel resection, including 7 children with HSCR. Neuronal differentiation and proliferation of ENSCs from submucosal and myenteric plexuses from patients with and without HSCR were characterized. ENSC migration and differentiation were studied following transplantation into embryonic chick neural crest, embryonic chick hindgut, and postnatal mouse aganglionic colon. RESULTS: The proliferative and neurogenic potential of ENSCs from HSCR intestine is equivalent to that of non-HSCR controls. Similarly, no difference was observed between myenteric- and submucosal-derived ENSCs. Postnatal ENSCs transplanted to embryonic neural crest pathways and to aneural hindgut migrate normally and differentiate into appropriate neural crest-derived cell types. ENSCs in postnatal mouse aganglionic colon differentiate into neurons and glia both ex vivo and in vivo. CONCLUSIONS: ENSCs isolated from the postnatal intestine of patients with and without HSCR can behave like embryonic neural crest-derived cells. These results support the feasibility of cell-based therapy for future treatment of neurointestinal disease.Pediatric Research (2017); doi:10.1038/pr.2017.4.
2016
Cheng LS, Graham HK, Pan WH, Nagy N, Carreon-Rodriguez A, Goldstein AM, Hotta R. Optimizing neurogenic potential of enteric neurospheres for treatment of neurointestinal diseases. J Surg Res. 2016;206 (2) :451-459.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Enteric neurospheres derived from postnatal intestine represent a promising avenue for cell replacement therapy to treat Hirschsprung disease and other neurointestinal diseases. We describe a simple method to improve the neuronal yield of spontaneously formed gut-derived neurospheres. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Enteric neurospheres were formed from the small and large intestines of mouse and human subjects. Neurosphere size, neural crest cell content, cell migration, neuronal differentiation, and neuronal proliferation in culture were analyzed. The effect of supplemental neurotrophic factors, including glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and endothelin-3, was also assessed. RESULTS: Mouse small intestine-derived neurospheres contained significantly more P75-expressing neural crest-derived cells (49.9 ± 15.3% versus 21.6 ± 11.9%, P < 0.05) and gave rise to significantly more Tuj1-expressing neurons than colon-derived neurospheres (69.9 ± 8.6% versus 46.2 ± 15.6%, P < 0.05). A similar pattern was seen in neurospheres isolated from human small and large intestine (32.6 ± 17.5% versus 10.2 ± 8.2% neural crest cells, P < 0.05; 29.7 ± 16.4% versus 16.0 ± 13.5% enteric neurons, P < 0.05). The addition of GDNF to the culture media further improved the neurogenic potential of small intestinal neurospheres (75.9 ± 4.0% versus 67.8 ± 5.8%, P < 0.05) whereas endothelin-3 had no effect. CONCLUSIONS: Enteric neurospheres formed from small intestine and supplemented with GDNF yield an enriched population of neural crest-derived progenitor cells and give rise to a high density of enteric neurons.
Cheng LS, Schwartz DM, Hotta R, Graham HK, Goldstein AM. Bowel dysfunction following pullthrough surgery is associated with an overabundance of nitrergic neurons in Hirschsprung disease. J Pediatr Surg. 2016;51 (11) :1834-1838.Abstract
PURPOSE: Recent evidence suggests that patients with Hirschsprung disease (HD) have abnormal neurotransmitter expression in the ganglionated proximal colon. These alterations may cause persistent bowel dysfunction even after pullthrough surgery. We sought to quantify the proportion of nitrergic neurons in the ganglionic colon of HD patients and relate these findings to functional outcome. METHODS: The proximal resection margin from 17 patients with colonic HD who underwent a pullthrough procedure and colorectal tissue from 4 age-matched controls were immunohistochemically examined to quantify the proportion of nitrergic neurons. The incidence of constipation, incontinence, and enterocolitis in HD patients was assessed retrospectively and correlated with the proportion of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) expressing neurons. Neuronal subtypes in the ganglionic colon of the Edrnb(-/-) mouse model of HD were also studied. RESULTS: Mice with HD had a significantly higher proportion of NOS+ neurons in ganglionic colon than normal littermates (32.0±5.6% vs. 19.8±1.2%, p<0.01). Patients with HD also had significantly more NOS+ neurons than controls (18.4±4.6% vs. 13.1±1.9%, p<0.01). Patients who experienced constipation or enterocolitis postoperatively tended toward a higher proportion of NOS+ neurons (21.4±3.9% vs. 17.1±4.1%, p=0.06). Furthermore, patients with a proportion of NOS+ neurons above the median of all HD patients (18.3%) were significantly more likely to have constipation than those below the median (75% vs. 14%, p<0.05). CONCLUSION: An overabundance of nitrergic neurons in the proximal resection margin is associated with HD and may predict bowel dysfunction following pullthrough surgery.
Burns AJ, Goldstein AM, Newgreen DF, Stamp L, Schäfer K-H, Metzger M, Hotta R, Young HM, Andrews PW, Thapar N, et al. White paper on guidelines concerning enteric nervous system stem cell therapy for enteric neuropathies. Dev Biol. 2016;417 (2) :229-51.Abstract
Over the last 20 years, there has been increasing focus on the development of novel stem cell based therapies for the treatment of disorders and diseases affecting the enteric nervous system (ENS) of the gastrointestinal tract (so-called enteric neuropathies). Here, the idea is that ENS progenitor/stem cells could be transplanted into the gut wall to replace the damaged or absent neurons and glia of the ENS. This White Paper sets out experts' views on the commonly used methods and approaches to identify, isolate, purify, expand and optimize ENS stem cells, transplant them into the bowel, and assess transplant success, including restoration of gut function. We also highlight obstacles that must be overcome in order to progress from successful preclinical studies in animal models to ENS stem cell therapies in the clinic.
Hotta R, Cheng LS, Graham HK, Nagy N, Belkind-Gerson J, Mattheolabakis G, Amiji MM, Goldstein AM. Delivery of enteric neural progenitors with 5-HT4 agonist-loaded nanoparticles and thermosensitive hydrogel enhances cell proliferation and differentiation following transplantation in vivo. Biomaterials. 2016;88 :1-11.Abstract
Cell therapy offers an innovative approach for treating enteric neuropathies. Postnatal gut-derived enteric neural stem/progenitor cells (ENSCs) represent a potential autologous source, but have a limited capacity for proliferation and neuronal differentiation. Since serotonin (5-HT) promotes enteric neuronal growth during embryonic development, we hypothesized that serotonin receptor agonism would augment growth of neurons from transplanted ENSCs. Postnatal ENSCs were isolated from 2 to 4 week-old mouse colon and cultured with 5-HT4 receptor agonist (RS67506)-loaded liposomal nanoparticles. ENSCs were co-cultured with mouse colon explants in the presence of RS67506-loaded (n = 3) or empty nanoparticles (n = 3). ENSCs were also transplanted into mouse rectum in vivo with RS67506-loaded (n = 8) or blank nanoparticles (n = 4) confined in a thermosensitive hydrogel, Pluronic F-127. Neuronal density and proliferation were analyzed immunohistochemically. Cultured ENSCs gave rise to significantly more neurons in the presence of RS67506-loaded nanoparticles. Similarly, colon explants had significantly increased neuronal density when RS67506-loaded nanoparticles were present. Finally, following in vivo cell delivery, co-transplantation of ENSCs with 5-HT4 receptor agonist-loaded nanoparticles led to significantly increased neuronal density and proliferation. We conclude that optimization of postnatal ENSCs can support their use in cell-based therapies for neurointestinal diseases.
Hotta R, Cheng LS, Graham HK, Pan W, Nagy N, Belkind-Gerson J, Goldstein AM. Isogenic enteric neural progenitor cells can replace missing neurons and glia in mice with Hirschsprung disease. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016;28 (4) :498-512.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Transplanting autologous patient-derived enteric neuronal stem/progenitor cells (ENSCs) is an innovative approach to replacing missing enteric neurons in patients with Hirschsprung disease (HSCR). Using autologous cells eliminates immunologic and ethical concerns raised by other cell sources. However, whether postnatal aganglionic bowel is permissive for transplanted ENSCs and whether ENSCs from HSCR patients can be successfully isolated, cultured, and transplanted in vivo remains unknown. METHODS: ENSCs isolated from the ganglionic intestine of Ednrb(-/-) mice (HSCR-ENSCs) were characterized immunohistochemically and evaluated for their capacity to proliferate and differentiate in vitro. Fluorescently labeled ENSCs were co-cultured ex vivo with aganglionic Ednrb(-/-) colon. For in vivo transplantation, HSCR-ENSCs were labeled with lentivirus expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) and implanted into aganglionic embryonic chick gut in ovo and postnatal aganglionic Ednrb(-/-) rectum in vivo. KEY RESULTS: HSCR-ENSCs maintain normal capacity self-renewal and neuronal differentiation. Moreover, the Ednrb(-/-) aganglionic environment is permissive to engraftment by wild-type ENSCs ex vivo and supports migratrion and neuroglial differentiation of these cells following transplantation in vivo. Lentiviral GFP-labeled HSCR-ENSCs populated embryonic chick hindgut and postnatal colon of Ednrb(-/-) HSCR, with cells populating the intermuscular layer and forming enteric neurons and glia. CONCLUSIONS & INFERENCES: ENSCs can be isolated and cultured from mice with HSCR, and transplanted into the aganglionic bowel of HSCR littermates to generate enteric neuronal networks. These results in an isogenic model establish the potential of using autologous-derived stem cells to treat HSCR and other intestinal neuropathies.
Belkind-Gerson J, Hotta R, Whalen M, Nayyar N, Nagy N, Cheng L, Zuckerman A, Goldstein AM, Dietrich J. Engraftment of enteric neural progenitor cells into the injured adult brain. BMC Neurosci. 2016;17 (1) :5.Abstract
BACKGROUND: A major area of unmet need is the development of strategies to restore neuronal network systems and to recover brain function in patients with neurological disease. The use of cell-based therapies remains an attractive approach, but its application has been challenging due to the lack of suitable cell sources, ethical concerns, and immune-mediated tissue rejection. We propose an innovative approach that utilizes gut-derived neural tissue for cell-based therapies following focal or diffuse central nervous system injury. RESULTS: Enteric neuronal stem and progenitor cells, able to differentiate into neuronal and glial lineages, were isolated from the postnatal enteric nervous system and propagated in vitro. Gut-derived neural progenitors, genetically engineered to express fluorescent proteins, were transplanted into the injured brain of adult mice. Using different models of brain injury in combination with either local or systemic cell delivery, we show that transplanted enteric neuronal progenitor cells survive, proliferate, and differentiate into neuronal and glial lineages in vivo. Moreover, transplanted cells migrate extensively along neuronal pathways and appear to modulate the local microenvironment to stimulate endogenous neurogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that enteric nervous system derived cells represent a potential source for tissue regeneration in the central nervous system. Further studies are needed to validate these findings and to explore whether autologous gut-derived cell transplantation into the injured brain can result in functional neurologic recovery.
Nagy N, Barad C, Graham HK, Hotta R, Cheng LS, Fejszak N, Goldstein AM. Sonic hedgehog controls enteric nervous system development by patterning the extracellular matrix. Development. 2016;143 (2) :264-75.Abstract
The enteric nervous system (ENS) develops from neural crest cells that migrate along the intestine, differentiate into neurons and glia, and pattern into two plexuses within the gut wall. Inductive interactions between epithelium and mesenchyme regulate gut development, but the influence of these interactions on ENS development is unknown. Epithelial-mesenchymal recombinations were constructed using avian hindgut mesenchyme and non-intestinal epithelium from the bursa of Fabricius. These recombinations led to abnormally large and ectopically positioned ganglia. We hypothesized that sonic hedgehog (Shh), a secreted intestinal epithelial protein not expressed in the bursa, mediates this effect. Inhibition of Shh signaling, by addition of cyclopamine or a function-blocking antibody, resulted in large, ectopic ganglia adjacent to the epithelium. Shh overexpression, achieved in ovo using Shh-encoding retrovirus and in organ culture using recombinant protein, led to intestinal aganglionosis. Shh strongly induced the expression of versican and collagen type IX, whereas cyclopamine reduced expression of these chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans that are known to be inhibitory to neural crest cell migration. Shh also inhibited enteric neural crest-derived cell (ENCC) proliferation, promoted neuronal differentiation, and reduced expression of Gdnf, a key regulator of ENS formation. Ptc1 and Ptc2 were not expressed by ENCCs, and migration of isolated ENCCs was not inhibited by Shh protein. These results suggest that epithelial-derived Shh acts indirectly on the developing ENS by regulating the composition of the intestinal microenvironment.
2015
Cheng LS, Hotta R, Graham HK, Nagy N, Goldstein AM, Belkind-Gerson J. Endoscopic delivery of enteric neural stem cells to treat Hirschsprung disease. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2015;27 (10) :1509-14.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Transplantation of enteric neural stem cells (ENSC) holds promise as a potential therapy for enteric neuropathies, including Hirschsprung disease. Delivery of transplantable cells via laparotomy has been described, but we propose a novel, minimally invasive endoscopic method of cell delivery. METHODS: Enteric neural stem cells for transplantation were cultured from dissociated gut of postnatal donor mice. Twelve recipient mice, including Ednrb(-/-) mice with distal colonic aganglionosis, underwent colonoscopic injection of ENSC under direct vision using a 30-gauge Hamilton needle passed through a rigid cystoureteroscope. Cell engraftment, survival, and neuroglial differentiation were studied 1-4 weeks after the procedure. KEY RESULTS: All recipient mice tolerated the procedure without complications and survived to sacrifice. Transplanted cells were found within the colonic wall in 9 of 12 recipient mice with differentiation into enteric neurons and glia. CONCLUSIONS & INFERENCES: Endoscopic injection of ENSC is a safe and reliable method for cell delivery, and can be used to deliver a large number of cells to a specific area of disease. This minimally invasive endoscopic approach may prove beneficial to future human applications of cell therapy for neurointestinal disease.
Belkind-Gerson J, Hotta R, Nagy N, Thomas AR, Graham H, Cheng L, Solorzano J, Nguyen D, Kamionek M, Dietrich J, et al. Colitis induces enteric neurogenesis through a 5-HT4-dependent mechanism. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015;21 (4) :870-8.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The intestine is known to contain enteric neuronal progenitors, but their precise identity and the mechanisms that activate them remain unknown. Based on the evidence for the neurogenic role of serotonin (5-HT) in the postnatal gut and the observation of enteric neuronal hyperplasia in inflammatory bowel disease, we hypothesized that colitis induces a neurogenic response through 5-HT4 receptor signaling. METHODS: We examined the effects of 5-HT4 agonism on colonic neurogenesis and gliogenesis in vitro and in vivo in adult mice using dextran sodium sulfate to experimentally induce colitis. RESULTS: In vitro, 5-HT4 agonism led to increased neuronal proliferation and density. Induction of experimental colitis in vivo similarly resulted in increased numbers of myenteric neurons, and this was inhibited by 5-HT4 antagonism. Interestingly, both in vitro and in vivo, 5-HT4 signaling increased glial cell proliferation but did not increase glial cell numbers, leading us to hypothesize that glia may give rise to neurons. After induction of colitis in normal, Nestin-GFP and Sox2-GFP transgenic mice, it was revealed that multiple glial markers (Sox2, Nestin, and CD49b) became strongly expressed by enteric neurons. Immunoselected enteric glia were found to give rise to neurons in culture, and this was inhibited in the presence of 5-HT4 blockade. Finally, isolated glia gave rise to a neuronal network upon transplantation into aganglionic embryonic avian hindgut. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that colitis promotes enteric neurogenesis in the adult colon through a serotonin-dependent mechanism that drives glial cells to transdifferentiate into neurons.
Nishikawa R, Hotta R, Shimojima N, Shibata S, Nagoshi N, Nakamura M, Matsuzaki Y, Okano HJ, Kuroda T, Okano H, et al. Migration and differentiation of transplanted enteric neural crest-derived cells in murine model of Hirschsprung's disease. Cytotechnology. 2015;67 (4) :661-70.Abstract
Stem cell therapy offers the potential of rebuilding the enteric nervous system (ENS) in the aganglionic bowel of patients with Hirschsprung's disease. P0-Cre/Floxed-EGFP mice in which neural crest-derived cells express EGFP were used to obtain ENS stem/progenitor cells. ENS stem/progenitor cells were transplanted into the bowel of Ret(-/-) mouse, an animal model of Hirschsprung's disease. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to determine whether grafted cells gave rise to neurons in the recipient bowel. EGFP expressing neural crest-derived cells accounted for 7.01 ± 2.52 % of total cells of gastrointestinal tract. ENS stem/progenitor cells were isolated using flow cytometry and expanded as neurosphere-like bodies (NLBs) in a serum-free culture condition. Some cells in NLBs expressed neural crest markers, p75 and Sox10 and neural stem/progenitor cells markers, Nestin and Musashi1. Multipotency of isolated ENS stem/progenitor cells was determined as they differentiated into neurons, glial cells, and myofibloblasts in culture. When co-cultured with explants of hindgut of Ret(-/-) mice, ENS stem/progenitor cells migrated into the aganglionic bowel and gave rise to neurons. ENS stem/progenitor cells used in this study appear to be clinically relevant donor cells in cell therapy to treat Hirschsprung's disease capable of colonizing the affected bowel and giving rise to neurons.
2014
Hotta R, Fujimura T, Shimojima N, Nakahara T, Fuchimoto Y, Hoshino K, Morikawa Y, Matsufuji H, Kuroda T. Application of nuclear medicine to achieve less invasive surgery for malignant solid tumors in children. Pediatr Int. 2014;56 (6) :896-901.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The use of nuclear medicine for the management of malignant tumor, such as radioguided surgery and sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), has been widely accepted in the adult practice. However, there are very few studies to apply those techniques for pediatric diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of application of nuclear medicine in surgery for neuroblastoma (NB) or rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) in children. METHODS: Radioguided surgery using (123) I-metaiodobenzylguanidine was performed on six children with NB. SLNB using technetium-labeled tin or sulfur colloid was performed on two children with perineal RMS. Histological evaluation of resected specimens was performed to determine the accuracy of intraoperative detection and SLNB. All patients were evaluated for overall survival and complications. RESULTS: Intraoperative tumor localization using hand-held gamma probe was helpful in 85.7% of NB patients. Sensitivity and specificity of this technique were 81.8% and 93.3%, respectively. There were no postoperative complications, and four out of five patients with high-risk NB experienced disease-free survival (median follow up, 57 months). Sentinel lymph nodes were easily detected in patients with perineal RMS, and histological assessment revealed complete consistency with regional lymph node status. CONCLUSIONS: Nuclear medicine may have a potential application in the use of less invasive surgery for advanced NB or perineal RMS, the two most challenging pediatric malignancies.
2013
Obermayr F, Hotta R, Enomoto H, Young HM. Development and developmental disorders of the enteric nervous system. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;10 (1) :43-57.Abstract
The enteric nervous system (ENS) arises from neural crest-derived cells that migrate into and along the gut, leading to the formation of a complex network of neurons and glial cells that regulates motility, secretion and blood flow. This Review summarizes the progress made in the past 5 years in our understanding of ENS development, including the migratory pathways of neural crest-derived cells as they colonize the gut. The importance of interactions between neural crest-derived cells, between signalling pathways and between developmental processes (such as proliferation and migration) in ensuring the correct development of the ENS is also presented. The signalling pathways involved in ENS development that were determined using animal models are also described, as is the evidence for the involvement of the genes encoding these molecules in Hirschsprung disease-the best characterized paediatric enteric neuropathy. Finally, the aetiology and treatment of Hirschsprung disease in the clinic and the potential involvement of defects in ENS development in other paediatric motility disorders are outlined.
Hotta R, Stamp LA, Foong JPP, McConnell SN, Bergner AJ, Anderson RB, Enomoto H, Newgreen DF, Obermayr F, Furness JB, et al. Transplanted progenitors generate functional enteric neurons in the postnatal colon. J Clin Invest. 2013;123 (3) :1182-91.Abstract
Cell therapy has the potential to treat gastrointestinal motility disorders caused by diseases of the enteric nervous system. Many studies have demonstrated that various stem/progenitor cells can give rise to functional neurons in the embryonic gut; however, it is not yet known whether transplanted neural progenitor cells can migrate, proliferate, and generate functional neurons in the postnatal bowel in vivo. We transplanted neurospheres generated from fetal and postnatal intestinal neural crest-derived cells into the colon of postnatal mice. The neurosphere-derived cells migrated, proliferated, and generated neurons and glial cells that formed ganglion-like clusters within the recipient colon. Graft-derived neurons exhibited morphological, neurochemical, and electrophysiological characteristics similar to those of enteric neurons; they received synaptic inputs; and their neurites projected to muscle layers and the enteric ganglia of the recipient mice. These findings show that transplanted enteric neural progenitor cells can generate functional enteric neurons in the postnatal bowel and advances the notion that cell therapy is a promising strategy for enteric neuropathies.
Akbareian SE, Nagy N, Steiger CE, Mably JD, Miller SA, Hotta R, Molnar D, Goldstein AM. Enteric neural crest-derived cells promote their migration by modifying their microenvironment through tenascin-C production. Dev Biol. 2013;382 (2) :446-56.Abstract
The enteric nervous system (ENS) is derived from vagal and sacral neural crest cells that migrate, proliferate, and differentiate into enteric neurons and glia within the gut wall. The mechanisms regulating enteric neural crest-derived cell (ENCC) migration are poorly characterized despite the importance of this process in gut formation and function. Characterization of genes involved in ENCC migration is essential to understand ENS development and could provide targets for treatment of human ENS disorders. We identified the extracellular matrix glycoprotein tenascin-C (TNC) as an important regulator of ENCC development. We find TNC dynamically expressed during avian gut development. It is absent from the cecal region just prior to ENCC arrival, but becomes strongly expressed around ENCCs as they enter the ceca and hindgut. In aganglionic hindguts, TNC expression is strong throughout the outer mesenchyme, but is absent from the submucosal region, supporting the presence of both ENCC-dependent and independent expression within the gut wall. Using rat-chick coelomic grafts, neural tube cultures, and gut explants, we show that ENCCs produce TNC and that this ECM protein promotes their migration. Interestingly, only vagal neural crest-derived ENCCs express TNC, whereas sacral neural crest-derived cells do not. These results demonstrate that vagal crest-derived ENCCs actively modify their microenvironment through TNC expression and thereby help to regulate their own migration.
2011
Hotta R, Thapar N. Advances in enteric neurobiology: how close are we to clinical use?. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2011;53 Suppl 2 :S43-5.
Hotta R, Natarajan D, Burns AJ, Thapar N. Stem cells for GI motility disorders. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2011;11 (6) :617-23.Abstract
Currently available therapies for gastrointestinal motility conditions are often inadequate. Recent scientific advances, however, have facilitated the identification of neural stem cells as novel tools for cellular replenishment. Such cells can be generated from a number of tissue sources including the gut itself. Neural stem cells can readily be harvested from postnatal human gut including by conventional endoscopy, and in experimental transplantation studies appear capable of generating a neo-Enteric Nervous System. Current initiatives are addressing pre-clinical proof of concept studies in vivo utilising animal models of disease. Although definitive cell replenishment therapies for gut motility disorders appear to be an exciting and realistic prospect, even in the short-term, a number of challenges remain to be addressed before definitive clinical application.
2010
Hotta R, Anderson RB, Kobayashi K, Newgreen DF, Young HM. Effects of tissue age, presence of neurones and endothelin-3 on the ability of enteric neurone precursors to colonize recipient gut: implications for cell-based therapies. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2010;22 :331-e86.Abstract
BACKGROUND Most enteric neurones arise from neural crest cells that originate in the post-otic hindbrain, and migrate into and along the developing gastrointestinal tract. There is currently great interest in the possibility of cell therapy to replace diseased or absent enteric neurones in patients with enteric neuropathies, such as Hirschsprung's disease. However, it is unclear whether neural crest stem/progenitor cells will be able to colonize colon (i) in which the mesenchyme has differentiated into distinct layers, (ii) that already contains enteric neurones or (iii) that lacks a gene expressed by the gut mesenchyme, such as endothelin-3 (Et-3). METHODS Co-cultures were used to examine the ability of enteric neural crest-derived cells (ENCCs) from E11.5 mouse gut to colonize a variety of recipient hindguts. KEY RESULTS Enteric neural crest-derived cells migrated and gave rise to neurones in E14.5 and E16.5 aneural colon in which the external muscle layers had differentiated, but they did not migrate as far as in younger colon. There was no evidence of altered ENCC proliferation, cell death or neuronal differentiation in older recipient explants. Enteric neural crest-derived cells failed to enter most recipient E14.5 and E16.5 colon explants already containing enteric neurones, and the few that did showed very limited migration. Finally, ENCCs migrated a shorter distance and a higher proportion expressed the pan-neuronal marker, Hu, in recipient E11.5 Et-3(-/-) colon compared to wild-type recipient colon. CONCLUSIONS & INFERENCES Age and an absence of Et-3 from the recipient gut both significantly reduced but did not prevent ENCC migration, but the presence of neurones almost totally prevented ENCC migration.

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