To investigate whether human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells, a novel source of progenitors with multilineage potential: 1) decrease traumatic brain injury sequelae and restore brain function; 2) are able to survive and home to the lesioned region; and 3) induce relevant changes in the environment in which they are infused.
Prospective experimental study.
Male C57Bl/6 mice.
Mice were subjected to controlled cortical impact/sham brain injury. At 24 hrs postinjury, human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells (150,000/5 μL) or phosphate-buffered saline (control group) were infused intracerebroventricularly contralateral to the injured side. Immunosuppression was achieved by cyclosporine A (10 mg/kg intraperitoneally).
Measurements and Main Results:
After controlled cortical impact, human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cell transplantation induced an early and long-lasting improvement in sensorimotor functions assessed by neuroscore and beam walk tests. One month postinjury, human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cell mice showed attenuated learning dysfunction at the Morris water maze and reduced contusion volume compared with controls. Hoechst positive human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells homed to lesioned tissue as early as 1 wk after injury in 67% of mice and survived in the injured brain up to 5 wks. By 3 days postinjury, cell infusion significantly increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor concentration into the lesioned tissue, restoring its expression close to the levels observed in sham operated mice. By 7 days postinjury, controlled cortical impact human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cell mice showed a nonphagocytic activation of microglia/macrophages as shown by a selective rise (260%) in CD11b staining (a marker of microglia/macrophage activation/recruitment) associated with a decrease (58%) in CD68 (a marker of active phagocytosis). Thirty-five days postinjury, controlled cortical impact human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cell mice showed a decrease of glial fibrillary acidic protein positivity in the scar region compared with control mice.
These findings indicate that human umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells stimulate the injured brain and evoke trophic events, microglia/macrophage phenotypical switch, and glial scar inhibitory effects that remodel the brain and lead to significant improvement of neurologic outcome.