Stem Cell Therapy for Neurovascular and Traumatic Brain Diseases

Diseases of the neurovascular unit, consisting of the endothelial vasculature and supporting cells, are incredibly prevalent in patients. Two such diseases, stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI), share major pathological similarities, with acute and chronic pathways leading to neurodegeneration. In particular, the neuroinflammatory aspect of stroke and TBI pathology has been shown to contribute significantly to worsening outcomes. Fortunately, neuroinflammation also offers an accessible therapeutic target. Minimal treatment options currently exist for either disease, but stem cell-based therapies have demonstrated great promise in offering neuroprotection and encouraging neuroregeneration after the initial insult. Stem cells have been shown to mitigate chronic neuroinflammation as well as modulate peripheral inflammation via the spleen. Additionally, stem cells have been demonstrated to preferentially migrate to the spleen when injected after a neurovascular injury. This further validates the notion that stem cells are inflammation-honing “biologics” and confer their neuroprotection in large by ameliorating the global inflammatory response. Current research investigations are focused on understanding these cell death and neural repair processes in an effort to utilize the preclinical findings toward efficient strategies designed to employ stem cell therapies as a treatment for stroke, TBI, and other neurovascular diseases. Here, we provide scientific evidence supporting the use of stem cell therapy for neurovascular diseases through the cells’ robust ability to sequester the inflammatory response associated with the secondary cell death that plagues both stroke and TBI.