Background and Purpose—Stroke is a cerebrovascular defect that leads to many adverse neurological complications. Current pharmacological treatments for stroke remain unclear in their effectiveness, whereas stem cell transplantation shows considerable promise. Previously, we have shown that human umbilical mesenchymal stem cells (HUMSCs) can differentiate into neurons in neuronal-conditioned medium. Here we evaluate the therapeutic potential of HUMSC transplantation for ischemic stroke in rats.
Methods—Focal cerebral ischemia was produced by middle cerebral artery occlusion and reperfusion. The HUMSCs treated with neuronal-conditioned medium or not treated were transplanted into the ischemic cortex 24 hours after surgery.
Results—Histology and MRI revealed that rats implanted with HUMSCs treated with neuronal-conditioned medium or not treated exhibited a trend toward less infarct volume and significantly less atrophy compared with the control group, which received no HUMSCs. Moreover, rats receiving HUMSCs showed significant improvements in motor function, greater metabolic activity of cortical neurons, and better revascularization in the infarct cortex. Implanted HUMSCs, treated or not treated, survived in the infarct cortex for at least 36 days and released neuroprotective and growth-associated cytokines, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor, platelet-derived growth factor-AA, basic fibroblast growth factor, angiopoietin-2, CXCL-16, neutrophil-activating protein-2, and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3.
Conclusions—Our results demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of HUMSC transplantation for ischemic stroke, likely due to the ability of the cells to produce growth-promoting factors. Thus, HUMSC transplantation may be an effective therapy in the future.