Paul Sanberg, PhD, DSc, professor of neurosurgery and director of the USF Center for Excellence in Aging and Brain Repair, will present the findings today at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting in New Orleans.
The researchers demonstrated that cells obtained from circulating human blood -- known as human peripheral blood (HPB) cells -- survived without immunosuppression, migrated to the site of stroke injury and significantly improved motor and cognitive performance in transplanted animals.
In addition, the researchers tracked the migration of the HPB cells following transplant by marking the cells with a fluorescent green protein that lights up under a microscope. They found that cell migration increased when HPB cell grafts were transplanted into the area of brain threatened but not yet dead (ischemic penumbra). No HPB cell migration was observed when cells were transplanted into the area of the brain where nearly all tissue had already died. (ischemic core).
Brain damage in both the striatum and cortex, sites of stroke injury, was 30 to 35 percent less in HPB-transplanted rats than in the control animals.
The researchers conclude the preliminary findings support the investigation of HPB cells for neurotransplantation therapy in stroke patients. They also suggest that the penumbra may be a more suitable transplant target than the core when designing clinical trials.