Stem cell therapies in preclinical models of stroke. Is the aged brain microenvironment refractory to cell therapy?

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Abstract

Stroke is a devastating disease demanding vigorous search for new therapies. Initial enthusiasm to stimulate restorative processes in the ischemic brain by means of cell-based therapies has meanwhile converted into a more balanced view recognizing impediments that may be related to unfavorable age-associated environments. Recent results using a variety of drug, cell therapy or combination thereof suggest that, (i) treatment with Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF) in aged rats has primarily a beneficial effect on functional outcome most likely via supportive cellular processes such as neurogenesis; (ii) the combination therapy, G-CSF with mesenchymal cells (G-CSF + BM-MSC or G-CSF + BM-MNC) did not further improve behavioral indices, neurogenesis or infarct volume as compared to G-CSF alone in aged animals; (iii) better results with regard to integration of transplanted cells in the aged rat environment have been obtained using iPS of human origin; (iv) mesenchymal cells may be used as drug carriers for the aged post-stroke brains. Conclusion: While the middle aged brain does not seem to impair drug and cell therapies, in a real clinical practice involving older post-stroke patients, successful regenerative therapies would have to be carried out for a much longer time.

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