Transplantation of neural-like cells is considered as a promising therapeutic strategy developed for neurodegenerative disease in particular for ischemic stroke. Since cell survival is a major concern following cell implantation, a number of studies have underlined the protective effects of preconditioning with hypoxia or hypoxia mimetic pharmacological agents such as deferoxamine (DFO), induced by activation of hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) and its target genes. The present study has investigated the effects of DFO preconditioning on some factors involved in cell survival, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis of neural-like cells derived from human Wharton's jelly mesenchymal stem cells (HWJ-MSCs) in presence of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). HWJ-MSCs were differentiated toward neural-like cells for 14 days and neural cell markers were identified using immunocytochemistry. HWJ-MSC-derived neural-like cells were then treated with 100 µM DFO, as a known hypoxia mimetic agent for 48 h. mRNA and protein expression of HIF-1 target genes including brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) significantly increased using RT-PCR and Western blotting which were reversed by HIF-1α inhibitor, while, gene expression of Akt-1, Bcl-2, and Bax did not change significantly but pAkt-1 was up-regulated as compared to poor DFO group. However, addition of H2O2 to DFO-treated cells resulted in higher resistance to H2O2-induced cell death. Western blotting analysis also showed significant up-regulation of HIF-1α, BDNF, VEGF, and pAkt-1, and decrease of Bax/Bcl-2 ratio as compared to poor DFO. These results may suggest that DFO preconditioning of HWJ-MSC-derived neural-like cells improves their tolerance and therapeutic potential and might be considered as a valuable strategy to improve cell therapy.
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