We established three stable neural stem cell (NSC) lines to explore the possibility of using hypoxia-specific vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expressing NSC lines (EpoSV-VEGF NSCs) to treat spinal cord injury. The application of EpoSV-VEGF NSCs into the injured spinal cord after clip compression injury not only showed therapeutic effects such as extended survival and angiogenesis, but also displayed its safety profile as it did not cause unwanted cell proliferation or angiogenesis in normal spinal cord tissue, as EpoSV-VEGF NSCs consistently showed hypoxia-specific VEGF expression patterns. This suggests that our EpoSV-VEGF NSCs are both safe and therapeutically efficacious for the treatment of spinal cord injury. Furthermore, this hypoxia-inducible gene expression system may represent a safe tool suitable for gene therapy.
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