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Stroke. 2013 May;44(5):1426-32. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.000326. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation attenuates brain injury after neonatal stroke.

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Laboratory of Neuroimmunology and Developmental Origins of Disease, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Brain injury caused by stroke is a frequent cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality with limited therapeutic options. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) have been shown to improve outcome after neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury mainly by secretion of growth factors stimulating repair processes. We investigated whether MSC treatment improves recovery after neonatal stroke and whether MSC overexpressing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (MSC-BDNF) further enhances recovery.


We performed 1.5-hour transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in 10-day-old rats. Three days after reperfusion, pups with evidence of injury by diffusion-weighted MRI were treated intranasally with MSC, MSC-BDNF, or vehicle. To determine the effect of MSC treatment, brain damage, sensorimotor function, and cerebral cell proliferation were analyzed.


Intranasal delivery of MSC- and MSC-BDNF significantly reduced infarct size and gray matter loss in comparison with vehicle-treated rats without any significant difference between MSC- and MSC-BDNF-treatment. Treatment with MSC-BDNF significantly reduced white matter loss with no significant difference between MSC- and MSC-BDNF-treatment. Motor deficits were also improved by MSC treatment when compared with vehicle-treated rats. MSC-BDNF-treatment resulted in an additional significant improvement of motor deficits 14 days after middle cerebral artery occlusion, but there was no significant difference between MSC or MSC-BDNF 28 days after middle cerebral artery occlusion. Furthermore, treatment with either MSC or MSC-BDNF induced long-lasting cell proliferation in the ischemic hemisphere.


Intranasal administration of MSC after neonatal stroke is a promising therapy for treatment of neonatal stroke. In this experimental paradigm, MSC- and BNDF-hypersecreting MSC are equally effective in reducing ischemic brain damage.

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