Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability. In our previous study, transplantation of human umbilical mesenchymal stem cells (HUMSCs) in Wharton’s jelly in the acute phase of ischemic stroke promotes recovery in rats. Unfortunately, there is no cure for chronic stroke. Patients with chronic stroke can only be treated with rehabilitation or supportive interventions. This study aimed to investigate the potential of xenograft of HUMSCs for treating chronic stroke in rats. Rats were subjected to 90 min middle cerebral artery occlusion and then reperfusion to mimic ischemic cerebral stroke. On day 14 following stroke, HUMSCs were transplanted into the damaged cerebral cortex. The motor function in rats of the Stroke + HUMSCs group exhibited significant improvement compared to that of the Stroke + Saline group, and the trend persisted until day 56 post stroke. The cerebral cortex changes were tracked using magnetic resonance imaging, showing that cerebral atrophy was found starting on day 7 and was reduced significantly in rats receiving HUMSCs compared to that in the Stroke + Saline group from day 21 to day 56. HUMSCs were found to be existed in the rats’ cerebral cortex on day 56, with signs of migration. The grafted HUMSCs did not differentiate into neurons or astrocytes and may release cytokines to improve neuroprotection, decrease inflammation and increase angiogenesis. Our results demonstrate that xeno-transplantation of HUMSCs has therapeutic benefits for chronic ischemic stroke. Most importantly, patients do not need to use their own HUMSCs, which is a gospel thing for clinical patients.
- Cerebral ischemia
- Chronic stroke
- Neurologic deficit
- Umbilical mesenchymal stem cells
- Wharton’s jelly