Monday, 26 August 2013

Stem cell-derived exosomes are a "robust" treatment for stroke

CT scan showing an ischemic stroke.
In a new study testing the potential application of stem cells in treating neurological disease, researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital have shown for the first time how microscopic material in the cells may be a "robust" treatment for crippling stroke.

"In this study we pioneered a totally new treatment for stroke, and possibly for all neurological disease," said Michael Chopp, Ph.D., scientific director of the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute.
The study focused on exosomes, blister-like microscopic "bubbles" that once were believed to carry and get rid of "old" proteins that were no longer required by the body. After the recent discovery that they also carry RNA, whole new fields of study were suggested -- including the pioneering work at Henry Ford.


The researchers discovered that after inducing stroke in lab rats, injecting exosomes containing this genetic material into their blood prompted remodeling of the affected brain, including increased production of new brain cells, blood vessels and neural rewiring. Together, these effects significantly improved neurological function that had been impaired by stroke.

Using bone marrow from the adult rats, the researchers extracted stem cells -- specifically mesenchymal cells, or MSCs -- that were then employed to generate exosomes.

The research team induced stroke by occluding an artery in the brain of each rat to block blood flow for two hours. Twenty-four hours later, they injected the exosomes into a vein in each rat's tail.

The rats' physical agility and neurological responses were tested before stroke and after treatment with the exosomes, and the results were compared.

"All rats showed severe functional loss one day after treatment, but gradual and eventually significant improvement during the four-week period that followed. This discovery provides a novel treatment for stroke, and possibly other neurological diseases." said Dr. Chopp says. 

Dr. Chopp and Henry Ford researchers earlier found that the beneficial effects of treatment of stroke with bone marrow cells are attributed to their production and release of exosomes. In addition, using a similar treatment with exosomes from bone marrow stem cells significantly reduced a particularly resistant form of malignant brain tumor in living lab rats.

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Reference
Xin H, Li Y, Cui Y, Yang JJ, Zhang ZG, & Chopp M (2013). Systemic administration of exosomes released from mesenchymal stromal cells promote functional recovery and neurovascular plasticity after stroke in rats. Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism PMID: 23963371

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