The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases

 Qi Lin Cao, MD

Qi Lin Cao, MD

Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Qi-Lin.Cao@uth.tmc.edu

713-500-3445

Dr. Cao is a principal investigator and associate professor with the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery and the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. He has discovered that transplanted adult stem cells (oligodendrocyte precursor cells or OPC) from the spinal cord could become oligodendrocytes. The new cells helped restore electrical pathways of the spinal cord and, therefore, function, in a process called remyelination.

Cao said two important discoveries stemming from this research were isolating precursor cells from the adult spinal cord and, prior to transplanting them into the spinal cord, genetically modifying them to express ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), a protein that encourages nerve growth. Most importantly, the evidence of remyelination was shown to exactly coincide with the anatomical localization of these motor pathways in spinal cord white matter. These latter data provide confidence that the mechanism by which the grafted OPCs are enhancing functional recovery is through remyelination.

In regards to his work with the Bentsen Stroke Center, Dr. Cao has proposed that transplantation of neural stem cells (NSC) could be one of the most promised novel reparative strategies to promote functional recovery after stroke. In this funded application, he will develop strategies to turn stroke patient’s skin cells into neural stem cells in the culture dish and then test the therapeutic efficacy and long-term safety of patient-specific neural stem cells in clinical relevant stroke animal model. Dr. Cao believes these studies will provide a solid foundation to develop the safe and effective stem cell-based restorative therapies for stroke in the near future.


Cao QL, Howard RM, Dennison JB, Whittemore SR. Differentiation of engrafted neuronal-restricted precursor cells is inhibited in the traumatically injured spinal cord. Exp Neurol 2002; 177:349-359.

Loy DN, Magnuson Ds, Zhang YP, Onifer SM, Mills MD, Cao QL, Darnall JB, Fajardo LC, Burke DA, Whittemore SR. Functional redundancy of ventral spinal locomotor pathways. J Neurosci 2002; 22:315-323.

Cao QL, Zhang YP, Iannoti C, DeVries WH, Xu XM, Shields CB, Whittemore SR. Functional and electrophysiological changes after graded traumatic spinal cord injury in adult rats. Exp Neurol 2005; 191:S3-16.

Loy DN, Seoufe AE, Pelt JL, Burke DA, Cao QL, Talbott JF, Whittemore SR. Serum biomarkers for acute spinal cord injury: rapid elevation of neuron-specific enolase and S-100. Neurosurgery 2005; 56:391-397.

Cao QL, Xu XM, DeVries WH Enzmann GU, Ping P, Tsoulfas P, Wood PM, Bunge MB, Whittemore SR. Functional recovery after transplantation of multineurotrophin-expressing glial-restricted precursor cells into traumatically injured spinal cord. J Neurosci 2005; 25:6947-6957.

Enzmann GU, Benton RL, Talbott JF, Cao QL, Whittemore SR. Functional considerations of stem cell transplantation therapy for spinal cord repair. J Neurotrauma 2006; 23:479-495.

Talbott JF, Cao QL, Enzmann GU, Benton RL, Achim V, Mills MD, Rao MS, Whittemore SR. Schwann cell-like defferntiation by adult aligodendrocyte precursor cells following engraftment into the demyelinated spinal cord is BMP dependent. Glia 2006; 54: 147-159.

Talbott JF, Cao QL, Bertrame J, Nkansah M, Benton RL, Lavik E, Whittemore SR. CNTF promotes the survival and deifferentiation of adult spinal cord-delivered oligodendrocyte precursor cells in vitro but fails to promote remyelination in vivo. Exp Neurol 2007; 204:485-489.