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Temporary induction of hypoxic adaptations by preconditioning fails to enhance Schwann cell transplant survival after spinal cord injury
Hypoxic preconditioning is protective in multiple models of injury and disease, but whether it is beneficial for cells transplanted into sites of spinal cord injury (SCI) is largely unexplored. In this study, we analyzed whether hypoxia-related preconditioning protected Schwann cells (SCs) transplanted into the contused thoracic rat spinal cord. Hypoxic preconditioning was induced in SCs prior to transplantation by exposure to either low oxygen (1% O2 ) or pharmacological agents (deferoxamine or adaptaquin). All preconditioning approaches induced hypoxic adaptations, including increased expression of HIF-1α and its target genes. These adaptations, however, were transient and resolved within 24 h of transplantation. Pharmacological preconditioning attenuated spinal cord oxidative stress and enhanced transplant vascularization, but it did not improve either transplanted cell survival or recovery of sensory or motor function. Together, these experiments show that hypoxia-related preconditioning is ineffective at augmenting either cell survival or the functional outcomes of SC-SCI transplants. They also reveal that the benefits of hypoxia-related adaptations induced by preconditioning for cell transplant therapies are not universal.