News Feature | April 14, 2014

UCI Team Discovers Bone Marrow Stem Cells' Potential In Stroke Recovery

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Bone marrow stem cells may help in stroke recovery, according to a team of researchers from the University of California, Irvine’s Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center.

Neurologist Dr. Steven Cramer and biomedical engineer Weian Zhao together analyzed 46 studies evaluating the use of a type of multipotent adult stem cells mostly processed from the bone marrow called mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) in animal models of stroke. Results showed that MSCs were superior to control therapy in 44 out of the 46 studies.

Dr. Cramer said “Stroke remains a major cause of disability, and we are encouraged that the preclinical evidence shows [MSCs’] efficacy with ischemic stroke. MSCs are of particular interest because they come from bone marrow, which is readily available, and are relatively easy to culture. In addition, they already have demonstrated value when used to treat other human diseases.”

The MSC’s effect on functional recovery was shown to be robust regardless of other factors such as dosage, time of administration relative to the stroke onset, or administration method. An earlier report focusing on MSC mechanisms of action explained how the cells were attracted to the injury sites and began releasing a wide range of molecules in response to signals emitted by the damaged areas. The molecules in turn stimulate several activities including blood vessel creation for enhanced circulation, protection of vulnerable cells, brain cell growth, and others. The MSCs also fostered an environment conducive to brain repair.

“We conclude that MSCs have consistently improved multiple outcome measures, with very large effect sizes, in a high number of animal studies and, therefore, that these findings should be the foundation of further studies on the use of MSCs in the treatment of ischemic stroke in humans,” said Dr. Cramer.

The UCI team’s analysis appeared in the April 8 issue of Neurology.