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Cerebrovasc Dis Extra. 2011 Jan-Dec;1(1):93-104. doi: 10.1159/000333381. Epub 2011 Dec 3.

Autologous mesenchymal stem cells in chronic stroke.

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Department of Neurology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.



Cell transplantation is a 'hype and hope' in the current scenario. It is in the early stage of development with promises to restore function in chronic diseases. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) transplantation in stroke patients has shown significant improvement by reducing clinical and functional deficits. They are feasible and multipotent and have homing characteristics. This study evaluates the safety, feasibility and efficacy of autologous MSC transplantation in patients with chronic stroke using clinical scores and functional imaging (blood oxygen level-dependent and diffusion tensor imaging techniques).


Twelve chronic stroke patients were recruited; inclusion criteria were stroke lasting 3 months to 1 year, motor strength of hand muscles of at least 2, and NIHSS of 4-15, and patients had to be conscious and able to comprehend. Fugl Meyer (FM), modified Barthel index (mBI), MRC, Ashworth tone grade scale scores and functional imaging scans were assessed at baseline, and after 8 and 24 weeks. Bone marrow was aspirated under aseptic conditions and expansion of MSC took 3 weeks with animal serum-free media (Stem Pro SFM). Six patients were administered a mean of 50-60 × 10(6) cells i.v. followed by 8 weeks of physiotherapy. Six patients served as controls. This was a non-randomized experimental controlled trial.


Clinical and radiological scanning was normal for the stem cell group patients. There was no mortality or cell-related adverse reaction. The laboratory tests on days 1, 3, 5 and 7 were also normal in the MSC group till the last follow-up. The FM and mBI showed a modest increase in the stem cell group compared to controls. There was an increased number of cluster activation of Brodmann areas BA 4 and BA 6 after stem cell infusion compared to controls, indicating neural plasticity.


MSC therapy aiming to restore function in stroke is safe and feasible. Further randomized controlled trials are needed to evaluate its efficacy.


Functional imaging; Neurological rehabilitation; Neuronal plasticity; Stem cell transplantation; Stroke; fMRI

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