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June 6, 2008

Investigators Find a Way to Improve Brain Function in Rats following a Stroke

  • A team of researchers have shown that rats transplanted with cells isolated from human nasal polyps have improved brain function following a stroke compared to rats not transplanted with these cells. The authors hence suggest that isolating these cells from individuals who have had a stroke and transplanting them back into the brains of these individuals might provide clinical benefit.

    The scientists isolated olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) and olfactory nerve fibroblasts (ONFs) from human nasal polyps and characterized them in vitro. Rats implanted with human OECs and ONFs performed better in tasks measuring their brain function following a stroke than did rats not transplanted with these cells.

    Further work determined some of the mechanisms by which OECs and ONFs mediated their beneficial effects, according to the investigators. Specifically, OECs and ONFs induced nerve-cell growth by increasing the expression of the soluble factor SDF-1-alpha, the protein to which it binds, and cellular prion protein. Also, when transplanted into mice, OECs and ONFs induced stem cells to target the site of brain damage.

    Researchers from Academia Sinica, Taipei, Republic of China and China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, conducted this study. Results were published online in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) on June 5.