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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: PLoS ONE

Volume 8, Issue 3, March 2013, e60049.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060049. Copyright © PLoS ONE


In this study, rat bone marrow stromal stem cells (BMSCs) were tracked after IV administration to rats with experimental stroke caused by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). In addition, the effects of BMSC treatment on blood cell composition, brain glia and sensorimotor behavior was studied and compared to that which occurred spontaneously during the normal recovery process after stroke. We found that the vast majority of radiolabeled or fluorescently labeled BMSCs traveled to and remained in peripheral organs (lungs, spleen, liver) 3 days after IV injection in the MCAO rat. Once in the circulation, BMSCs also produced rapid alterations in host blood cell composition, increasing both neutrophil and total white blood cell count by 6 hours post-injection. In contrast, few injected BMSCs traveled to the brain and almost none endured there long term. Nonetheless, BMSC treatment produced dramatic changes in the number and activation of brain astroglia and microglia, particularly in the region of the infarct. These cellular changes were correlated with a marked improvement in performance on tests of sensory and motor function as compared to the partial recovery of function seen in PBS-injected control rats. We conclude that the notable recovery in function observed after systemic administration of BMSCs to MCAO rats is likely due to the cellular changes in blood and/or brain cell number, activation state and their cytokine/growth factor products.

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