Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 641–655 | Cite as

Human Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells Protect Against SCA3 by Modulating the Level of 70 kD Heat Shock Protein

  • Tan Li
  • Yi Liu
  • Linjie Yu
  • Jiamin Lao
  • Meijuan Zhang
  • Jiali Jin
  • Zhengjuan Lu
  • Zhuo Liu
  • Yun Xu
Original Research


Spinocerebellar ataxia 3 (SCA3), which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, is currently incurable. Emerging studies have reported that human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (HUC-MSCs) transplantation could be a promising therapeutic strategy for cerebellar ataxias. However, few studies have evaluated the effects of HUC-MSCs on SCA3 transgenic mouse. Thus, we investigated the effects of HUC-MSCs on SCA3 mice and the underlying mechanisms in this study. SCA3 transgenic mice received systematic administration of 2 × 106 HUC-MSCs once per week for 12 continuous weeks. Motor coordination was measured blindly by open field tests and footprint tests. Immunohistochemistry and Nissl staining were applied to detect neuropathological alternations. Neurotrophic factors in the cerebellum were assessed by ELISA. We used western blotting to detect the alternations of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70), IGF-1, mutant ataxin-3, and apoptosis-associated proteins. Tunel staining was also used to detect apoptosis of affected cells. The distribution and differentiation of HUC-MSCs were determined by immunofluorescence. Our results exhibited that HUC-MSCs transplantation significantly alleviated motor impairments, corresponding to a reduction of cerebellar atrophy, preservation of neurons, decreased expression of mutant ataxin-3, and increased expression of HSP70. Implanted HUC-MSCs were mainly distributed in the cerebellum and pons with no obvious differentiation, and the expressions of IGF-1, VEGF, and NGF in the cerebellum were significantly elevated. Furthermore, with the use of HSP70 analogy quercetin injection, it demonstrated that HSP70 is involved in mutant ataxin-3 reduction. These results showed that HUC-MSCs implantation is a potential treatment for SCA3, likely through upregulating the IGF-1/HSP70 pathway and subsequently inhibiting mutant ataxin-3 toxicity.


Ataxia Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells HSP70 Neurotrophins Purkinje cells Spinocerebellar ataxia 3 



Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium


Human leukocyte antigen


Heat protein 70


Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells


Internal granular layer


Molecular layer


Mesenchymal stem cells


Purkinje cell layer




Passage three


Spinocerebellar ataxia 3


Wild type



We express our sincere appreciation to the patients who provided umbilical cord in the research. We thank the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School for material support.


This work was funded by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (81200876, 81230026, 81300988 and 81501028) and the Science Foundation from Jiangsu Provincial Commission of Health and Family Planning (H201538).

Authors contribution

TL designed experiments, contributed ideas, and revised manuscript. YL, LY, and JL contributed to the experiments performance and the collection/assembly of data. MZ, YX, JJ, and ZL contributed to data analysis, results interpretation, and manuscript editing. ZL conceived the experiments, developed the project, contributed ideas, and wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

The consent is obtained from the all the participants.

Statement of Human Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.” Human tissues were obtained under approval of the Ethical Committee of Health Sciences Faculty of the Nanjing University (China) (Project Number 2013-081-01).

Statement on the Welfare of Animals

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the National Regulations of Experimental Animal Administration and the Committee of Experimental Animal Administration of Nanjing University.

Supplementary material

10571_2017_513_MOESM1_ESM.tif (22.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 23491 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyAffiliated Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical SchoolNanjing CityPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyDrum Tower Hospital of Nanjing Medical UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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