Researchers use cell therapy to restore damaged brain areas in rats that suffered a stroke

Researchers from Lund University (Sweeden) and the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona have restored, using cell therapy, the mobility and sensibility of rats that suffered a stroke. The results of this study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Researchers used an ischemic model of stroke in rats and transplanted stem cells obtained from the skin of a healthy human donor into the brain. The cells were reprogramed to become neuronal progenitors of the damaged area of the brain, specifically the brain cortex. Six months after the transplantation, researchers could observe how the new cells had repaired the damage that was caused by the stroke injury. In addition, the sensor and motor problems resulting from the stroke had been reversed as well.

“We observed that the fibers of the cells grafted in the cortical area grew and created connections in brain areas that are far from the transplant area”, notes Daniel Tornero, researcher in the Laboratory of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine in UBNeuro. To identify the grafted cells, researches used different tracking techniques to show the cells correctly connect within the damaged nerve circuits. “Although there is a lot of work to do -the researcher adds-, the study sheds light on the possibility of replacing the damaged cells for new healthy cells in patients with ictus”.

This is the last study of a series of three articles in which the researchers used cell therapy to work on brain repair. Previous studies showed it is possible to transplant nervous cells derived from human stem cells or reprogrammed cells in the brain of rats affected by stroke.  However, researchers did not know whether the transformed cells could create new connections in the rat brains and restore the movement and feelings of touch.

“The next step is to understand how the transplant affects intellectual functions such as memory, and the potential adverse effects”, concludes Daniel Tornero.

Article reference:

S. Palma-Tortosa, D. l Tornero, M. Grønning Hansen, E. Monni, M. Hajy, S. Kartsivadze, S. Aktay, O. Tsupykov, M. Parmar, K. Deisseroth, G. Skibo, O. Lindvall, y Z. Kokaia. “Activity in grafted human iPS cell–derived corticalneurons integrated in stroke-injured rat brain regulatesmotor behavior“. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Doi: doi: 10.1073/pnas.2000690117