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Stem Cell Res Ther. 2017 May 12;8(1):112. doi: 10.1186/s13287-017-0565-7.

Preconditioning of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells by tetramethylpyrazine enhances cell migration and improves functional recovery after focal cerebral ischemia in rats.

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Department of Physiology, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, 310053, China.
Department of Physiology, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, 310053, China.
Department of Anatomy, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, 310053, China.
Department of Pathology, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, 310053, China.



Transplantation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) is one of the new therapeutic strategies for treating ischemic stroke. However, the relatively poor migratory capacity of BMSCs toward infarcted regions limited the therapeutic potential of this approach. Pharmacological preconditioning can increase the expression of CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) in BMSCs and enhance cell migration toward the injury site. In the present study, we investigated whether tetramethylpyrazine (TMP) preconditioning could enhance BMSCs migration to the ischemic brain and improve functional recovery through upregulating CXCR4 expression.


BMSCs were identified by flow cytometry analysis. BMSCs migration was evaluated in vitro by transwell migration assay, and CXCR4 expression was measured by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis. In rats with focal cerebral ischemia, the neurological function was evaluated by the modified neurological severity score, the adhesive removal test and the corner test. The homing BMSCs and angiogenesis were detected by immunofluorescence, and expression of stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and CXCR4 was measured by western blot analysis.


Flow cytometry analysis demonstrated that BMSCs expressed CD29 and CD90, but not CD34 and CD45. TMP pretreatment dose-dependently induced BMSCs migration and CXCR4 expression in vitro, which was significantly inhibited by AMD3100, a CXCR4 antagonist. In rat stroke models, we found more TMP-preconditioned BMSCs homing toward the infarcted regions than nonpreconditioned cells, leading to improved neurological performance and enhanced angiogenesis. Moreover, TMP-preconditioned BMSCs significantly upregulated the protein expression of SDF-1 and CXCR4 in the ischemic boundary regions. These beneficial effects of TMP preconditioning were blocked by AMD3100.


TMP preconditioning enhances the migration and homing ability of BMSCs, increases CXCR4 expression, promotes angiogenesis, and improves neurological performance. Therefore, TMP preconditioning may be an effective strategy to improve the therapeutic potency of BMSCs for ischemic stroke due to enhanced BMSCs migration to ischemic regions.


Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells; CXCR4; Migration; Preconditioning; Tetramethylpyrazine

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