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1.  Neuroinflammatory responses to traumatic brain injury: etiology, clinical consequences, and therapeutic opportunities 
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem accounting for 1.4 million emergency room visits by US citizens each year. Although TBI has been traditionally considered an acute injury, chronic symptoms reminiscent of neurodegenerative disorders have now been recognized. These progressive neurodegenerative-like symptoms manifest as impaired motor and cognitive skills, as well as stress, anxiety, and mood affective behavioral alterations. TBI, characterized by external bumps or blows to the head exceeding the brain’s protective capacity, causes physical damage to the central nervous system with accompanying neurological dysfunctions. The primary impact results in direct neural cell loss predominantly exhibiting necrotic death, which is then followed by a wave of secondary injury cascades including excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, blood–brain barrier disruption, and inflammation. All these processes exacerbate the damage, worsen the clinical outcomes, and persist as an evolving pathological hallmark of what we now describe as chronic TBI. Neuroinflammation in the acute stage of TBI mobilizes immune cells, astrocytes, cytokines, and chemokines toward the site of injury to mount an antiinflammatory response against brain damage; however, in the chronic stage, excess activation of these inflammatory elements contributes to an “inflamed” brain microenvironment that principally contributes to secondary cell death in TBI. Modulating these inflammatory cells by changing their phenotype from proinflammatory to antiinflammatory would likely promote therapeutic effects on TBI. Because neuroinflammation occurs at acute and chronic stages after the primary insult in TBI, a treatment targeting neuroinflammation may have a wider therapeutic window for TBI. To this end, a better understanding of TBI etiology and clinical manifestations, especially the pathological presentation of chronic TBI with neuroinflammation as a major component, will advance our knowledge on inflammation-based disease mechanisms and treatments.
PMCID: PMC4295534  PMID: 25657582
head trauma; chronic; inflammation; secondary cell death; regenerative medicine; stem cells
Neuroreport  2013;24(18):1067-1071.
With limited clinical trials in stem cell therapy for adult stroke underway, the assessment of efficacy also needs to be considered for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, considering its distinct symptoms. The critical nature of this condition establishes deficits that last a lifetime. Here, we will highlight the progress of current translational research, commenting on the critical nature of the disease, stem cell sources, the use of hypothermia, safety and efficacy of each treatment, modes of action, and the possibility of combination therapy. With this in mind, we reference translational guidelines established by a consortium of research partners called Stem cell Therapeutics as an Emerging Paradigm for Stroke (STEPS). The guidelines of STEPS are directed for evaluating outcomes for cell therapy in adult stroke; however, we identify the overlapping pathology, as we believe these guidelines will serve well in the investigation of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic therapy. Lastly, discussion into current treatment and a case report demonstrate that the capabilities for these treatments have arrived and the time for advancing stem cell therapy and hypothermia for cerebral palsy is now.
PMCID: PMC3889715  PMID: 24169604
cell transplantation; neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury; translational research; clinical applications
3.  Vascular Damage: A Persisting Pathology Common to Alzheimer’s Disease and Traumatic Brain Injury 
Medical hypotheses  2013;81(5):10.1016/j.mehy.2013.09.012.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are both significant clinical problems characterized by debilitating symptoms with limited available treatments. Interestingly, both neurological diseases are characterized by neurovascular damage. This impaired brain vasculature correlates with the onset of dementia, a symptom associated with hippocampal degeneration seen in both diseases. We posit that vascular damage is a major pathological link between TBI and AD, in that TBI victims are predisposed to AD symptoms due to altered brain vasculature; vice versa, the progression of AD pathology may be accelerated by TBI especially when the brain insult worsens hippocampal degeneration. Our hypothesis is supported by recent data reporting expedited AD pathology in presymptomatic transgenic AD mice subjected to TBI. If our hypothesis is correct, treatments targeted at repairing the vasculature may prove effective at treating both diseases and preventing the evolution of AD symptoms in TBI victims.
PMCID: PMC3836590  PMID: 24074832
Traumatic Brain Injury; Alzheimer’s disease; Neurovascular Damage
4.  Menstrual blood transplantation for ischemic stroke: Therapeutic mechanisms and practical issues 
Cerebrovascular diseases are a major cause of death and long-term disability in developed countries. Tissue plasmin activator (tPA) is the only approved therapy for ischemic stroke, strongly limited by the short therapeutic window and hemorrhagic complications, therefore excluding most patients from its benefits. The rescue of the penumbra area of the ischemic infarct is decisive for functional recovery after stroke. Inflammation is a key feature in the penumbra area and it plays a dual role, improving injury in early phases but impairing neural survival at later stages. Stem cells can be opportunely used to modulate inflammation, abrogate cell death and, therefore, preserve neural function. We here discuss the possible role of stem cells derived from menstrual blood as restorative treatment for stroke. We highlight the availability, proliferative capacity, pluripotentiality and angiogenic features of these cells and explore their present and future experimental and clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC4177033  PMID: 25267932
stroke; penumbra area; cell-based therapy; menstrual blood stem cells; endometrium-derived stem cells; restorative treatment
5.  Stem Cell Therapy for Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy 
Treatments for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) have been limited. The aim of this paper is to offer translational research guidance on stem cell therapy for neonatal HIE by examining clinically relevant animal models, practical stem cell sources, safety and efficacy of endpoint assays, as well as a general understanding of modes of action of this cellular therapy. In order to do so, we discuss the clinical manifestations of HIE, highlighting its overlapping pathologies with stroke and providing insights on the potential of cell therapy currently investigated in stroke, for HIE. To this end, we draw guidance from recommendations outlined in stem cell therapeutics as an emerging paradigm for stroke or STEPS, which have been recently modified to Baby STEPS to cater for the “neonatal” symptoms of HIE. These guidelines recognized that neonatal HIE exhibit distinct disease symptoms from adult stroke in need of an innovative translational approach that facilitates the entry of cell therapy in the clinic. Finally, new information about recent clinical trials and insights into combination therapy are provided with the vision that stem cell therapy may benefit from available treatments, such as hypothermia, already being tested in children diagnosed with HIE.
PMCID: PMC4130306  PMID: 25161645
cerebral palsy; stem cells; hypothermia; combination therapy; translational research
6.  Vasculogenesis in Experimental Stroke After Human Cerebral Endothelial Cell Transplantation 
Background and Purpose
Despite the reported functional recovery in transplanted stroke models and patients, the mechanism of action underlying stem cell therapy remains not well understood. Here, we examined the role of stem cell-mediated vascular repair in stroke.
Adult rats were exposed to transient occlusion of the middle cerebral artery and 3 hours later randomly stereotaxically transplantated with 100K, 200K, or 400K human cerebral endothelial cell 6 viable cells or vehicle. Animals underwent neurological examination and motor test up to day 7 after transplantation then euthanized for immunostaining against neuronal, vascular, and specific human antigens. A parallel in vitro study cocultured rat primary neuronal cells with human cerebral endothelial cell 6 under oxygen-glucose deprivation and treated with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and anti-VEGF.
Stroke animals that received vehicle infusion displayed typical occlusion of the middle cerebral artery-induced behavioral impairments that were dose-dependently reduced in transplanted stroke animals at days 3 and 7 after transplantation and accompanied by increased expression of host neuronal and vascular markers adjacent to the transplanted cells. Some transplanted cells showed a microvascular phenotype and juxtaposed to the host vasculature. Infarct volume in transplanted stroke animals was significantly smaller than vehicle-infused stroke animals. Moreover, rat neurons cocultured with human cerebral endothelial cell 6 or treated with VEGF exhibited significantly less oxygen-glucose deprivation-induced cell death that was blocked by anti-VEGF treatment.
We found attenuation of behavioral and histological deficits coupled with robust vasculogenesis and neurogenesis in endothelial cell-transplanted stroke animals, suggesting that targeting vascular repair sets in motion a regenerative process in experimental stroke possibly via the VEGF pathway.
PMCID: PMC4083631  PMID: 24130140
endothelial cells; neurogenesis; stem cells; stroke
7.  Mannitol-Enhanced Delivery of Stem Cells and Their Growth Factors Across the Blood–Brain Barrier 
Cell transplantation  2014;23(0):531-539.
Ischemic brain injury in adults and neonates is a significant clinical problem with limited therapeutic interventions. Currently, clinicians have only tPA available for stroke treatment and hypothermia for cerebral palsy. Owing to the lack of treatment options, there is a need for novel treatments such as stem cell therapy. Various stem cells including cells from embryo, fetus, perinatal, and adult tissues have proved effective in preclinical and small clinical trials. However, a limiting factor in the success of these treatments is the delivery of the cells and their by-products (neurotrophic factors) into the injured brain. We have demonstrated that mannitol, a drug with the potential to transiently open the blood–brain barrier and facilitate the entry of stem cells and trophic factors, as a solution to the delivery problem. The combination of stem cell therapy and mannitol may improve therapeutic outcomes in adult stroke and neonatal cerebral palsy.
PMCID: PMC4083632  PMID: 24480552
Mannitol; Stem cells; Blood–brain barrier permeability; Neurotrophic factors; Cerebral ischemia; Adult; Neonates
8.  Oligodendrocytes engineered with migratory proteins as effective graft source for cell transplantation in multiple sclerosis 
Cell medicine  2013;6(3):123-127.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by widespread immunomodulatory demyelination of the CNS resulting in nerve cell dysfunction. Accordingly, treatment strategies have been centered on immunodulation and remyelination, with the former primarily focused on reducing the pathology rather than enhancing myelin repair which the latter targets. While conceding to the emerging view of heterogeneity in the pathology of MS, which precludes variations in degree of immune response (i.e., inflammation) and demyelination, the concept of enhancing myelin repair is appealing since it is likely to provide both disease-reducing and disease-inhibiting therapeutic approach to MS. In this regard, we and several others, have proposed that cell replacement therapy is an effective strategy to repair the myelin in MS. Here, we hypothesize that transplantation of mouse bone marrow-derived oligodendrocytes (BMDOs) and BMDOs transfected with Ephrin proteins (BMDO+Ephrin), which are known to enhance cell and axonal migratory capacity, may produce therapeutic benefits in animal models of MS.
PMCID: PMC4080202  PMID: 24999443
Multiple Sclerosis; cell transplantation; bone marrow derived oligodendrocytes (BMDOs); BMDO+Ephrin
Cell medicine  2013;6(3):111-122.
Stroke is the third most common cause of death and severe disability among Western populations. Overall, the incidence of stroke is uniformly higher in men than in women. Stroke is rare in women during the reproductive years, and rapidly increases after menopause, strongly suggesting that estrogen (E2) plays an important role in the prevention of stroke. Ongoing studies are currently evaluating both the benefits and risks associated with E2 replacement therapy and hormone replacement therapy in stroke. Equally important is the role of E2 receptor (ER), as studies indicate that ER populations in several tissue sites may significantly change during stress and aging. Such changes may affect the patient’s susceptibility to neurological disorders including stroke, and greatly affect the response to selective E2 receptor modulators (SERMs). Replacement therapies may be inefficient with low ER levels.
The goal of this review paper is to discuss an animal model that will allow investigations of the potential therapeutic effects of E2 and its derivatives in stroke. We hypothesize that E2 neuroprotection is, in part, receptor mediated. This hypothesis is a proof of principle approach to demonstrate a role for specific ER subtypes in E2 neuroprotection. To accomplish this, we use a retroviral mediated gene transfer strategy that express subtypes of the ER gene in regions of the rat brain most susceptible to neuronal damage, namely the striatum and cortex. The animal model is exposed to experimental stroke conditions involving middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) method, and eventually the extent of neuronal damage will be evaluated. A reduction in neuronal damage is expected when E2 is administered with specific ER subtypes. From this animal model, an optimal E2 dose and treatment regimen can be determined. The animal model can help identify potential E2-like therapeutics in stroke, and screen for beneficial or toxic additives present in commercial E2 preparations that are currently available. Such studies will be informative in designing drug therapies for stroke.
PMCID: PMC4080307  PMID: 24999442
10.  Intravenous Transplants of Human Adipose-Derived Stem Cell Protect the Brain from Traumatic Brain Injury-Induced Neurodegeneration and Motor and Cognitive Impairments: Cell Graft Biodistribution and Soluble Factors in Young and Aged Rats 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(1):313-326.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors exhibit motor and cognitive symptoms from the primary injury that can become aggravated over time because of secondary cell death. In the present in vivo study, we examined the beneficial effects of human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs) in a controlled cortical impact model of mild TBI using young (6 months) and aged (20 months) F344 rats. Animals were transplanted intravenously with 4 × 106 hADSCs (Tx), conditioned media (CM), or vehicle (unconditioned media) at 3 h after TBI. Significant amelioration of motor and cognitive functions was revealed in young, but not aged, Tx and CM groups. Fluorescent imaging in vivo and ex vivo revealed 1,1′ dioactadecyl-3-3-3′,3′-tetramethylindotricarbocyanine iodide-labeled hADSCs in peripheral organs and brain after TBI. Spatiotemporal deposition of hADSCs differed between young and aged rats, most notably reduced migration to the aged spleen. Significant reduction in cortical damage and hippocampal cell loss was observed in both Tx and CM groups in young rats, whereas less neuroprotection was detected in the aged rats and mainly in the Tx group but not the CM group. CM harvested from hADSCs with silencing of either NEAT1 (nuclear enriched abundant transcript 1) or MALAT1 (metastasis associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1), long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) known to play a role in gene expression, lost the efficacy in our model. Altogether, hADSCs are promising therapeutic cells for TBI, and lncRNAs in the secretome is an important mechanism of cell therapy. Furthermore, hADSCs showed reduced efficacy in aged rats, which may in part result from decreased homing of the cells to the spleen.
PMCID: PMC3866490  PMID: 24381292
aging; brain injury; stem cell
11.  The Battle of the Sexes for Stroke Therapy: Female- Versus Male-Derived Stem Cells 
Cell therapy is a major discipline of regenerative medicine that has been continually growing over the last two decades. The aging of the population necessitates discovery of therapeutic innovations to combat debilitating disorders, such as stroke. Menstrual blood and Sertoli cells are two gender-specific sources of viable transplantable cells for stroke therapy. The use of autologous cells for the subacute phase of stroke offers practical clinical application. Menstrual blood cells are readily available, display proliferative capacity, pluripotency and angiogenic features, and, following transplantation in stroke models, have the ability to migrate to the infarct site, regulate the inflammatory response, secrete neurotrophic factors, and have the possibility to differentiate into neural lineage. Similarly, the testis-derived Sertoli cells secrete many growth and trophic factors, are highly immunosuppressive, and exert neuroprotective effects in animal models of neurological disorders. We highlight the practicality of experimental and clinical application of menstrual blood cells and Sertoli cells to treat stroke, from cell isolation and cryopreservation to administration.
PMCID: PMC4059004  PMID: 23469849
menstrual blood; Sertoli cells; autologous; ischemic stroke; regenerative
12.  Stroke in the Eye of the Beholder 
Medical hypotheses  2013;80(4):411-415.
The pathophysiological changes that occur during ischemic stroke can have a profound effect on the surrounding nerve tissue. To this end, we advance the hypothesis that retinal damage can occur as a consequence of ischemic stroke in animal models. We discuss the preclinical evidence over the last 3 decades supporting this hypothesis of retinal damage following ischemic stroke. In our evaluation of the hypothesis, we highlight the animal models providing evidence of pathological and mechanistic link between ischemic stroke and retinal damage. That retinal damage is closely associated with ischemic stroke, yet remains neglected in stroke treatment regimen, provides the impetus for recognizing the treatment of retinal damage as a critical component of stroke therapy.
PMCID: PMC3595340  PMID: 23395299
13.  Stem cell-paved biobridge facilitates neural repair in traumatic brain injury 
Modified mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) display a unique mechanism of action during the repair phase of traumatic brain injury by exhibiting the ability to build a biobridge between the neurogenic niche and the site of injury. Immunohistochemistry and laser capture assay have visualized this biobridge in the area between the neurogenic subventricular zone and the injured cortex. This biobridge expresses high levels of extracellular matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which are initially co-localized with a stream of transplanted MSCs, but later this region contains only few to non-detectable grafts and becomes overgrown by newly recruited host cells. We have reported that long-distance migration of host cells from the neurogenic niche to the injured brain site can be attained via these transplanted stem cell-paved biobridges, which serve as a key regenerative process for the initiation of endogenous repair mechanisms. Thus, far the two major schools of discipline in stem cell repair mechanisms support the idea of “cell replacement” and the bystander effects of “trophic factor secretion.” Our novel observation of stem cell-paved biobridges as pathways for directed migration of host cells from neurogenic niche toward the injured brain site adds another mode of action underlying stem cell therapy. More in-depth investigations on graft-host interaction will likely aid translational research focused on advancing this stem cell-paved biobridge from its current place, as an equally potent repair mechanism as cell replacement and trophic factor secretion, into a new treatment strategy for traumatic brain injury and other neurological disorders.
PMCID: PMC4068001  PMID: 25009475
trauma; cell transplantation; regenerative medicine; neurogenesis; extracellular matrix
14.  Therapeutic outcomes of transplantation of amniotic fluid-derived stem cells in experimental ischemic stroke 
Accumulating preclinical evidence suggests the use of amnion as a source of stem cells for investigations of basic science concepts related to developmental cell biology, but also for stem cells’ therapeutic applications in treating human disorders. We previously reported isolation of viable rat amniotic fluid-derived stem (AFS) cells. Subsequently, we recently reported the therapeutic benefits of intravenous transplantation of AFS cells in a rodent model of ischemic stroke. Parallel lines of investigations have provided safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy for treating stroke and other neurological disorders. This review article highlights the need for investigations of mechanisms underlying AFS cells’ therapeutic benefits and discusses lab-to-clinic translational gating items in an effort to optimize the clinical application of the cell transplantation for stroke.
PMCID: PMC4131212  PMID: 25165432
cerebral ischemia; neural stem/progenitor cells; regenerative medicine; neurogenesis; neurotrophic factors
15.  Human Umbilical Cord Blood for Transplantation Therapy in Myocardial Infarction 
Cell-based therapy is a promising therapy for myocardial infarction. Endogenous repair of the heart muscle after myocardial infarction is a challenge because adult cardiomyocytes have a limited capacity to proliferate and replace damaged cells. Pre-clinical and clinical evidence has shown that cell based therapy may promote revascularization and replacement of damaged myocytes after myocardial infarction. Adult stem cells can be harvested from different sources including bone marrow, skeletal myoblast, and human umbilical cord blood cells. The use of these cells for the repair of myocardial infarction presents various advantages over other sources of stem cells. Among these are easy harvesting, unlimited differentiation capability, and robust angiogenic potential. In this review, we discuss the milestone findings and the most recent evidence demonstrating the therapeutic efficacy and safety of the transplantation of human umbilical cord blood cells as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with gene therapy, highlighting the importance of optimizing the timing, dose and delivery methods, and a better understanding of the mechanisms of action that will guide the clinical entry of this innovative treatment for ischemic disorders, specifically myocardial infarction.
PMCID: PMC3845524  PMID: 24307973
Myocardial infarction; Cardiomyocytes; Umbilical cord blood; Angiogenesis; Gene therapy
16.  Stem Cells for Neurovascular Repair in Stroke 
Stem cells exert therapeutic effects against ischemic stroke via transplantation of exogenous stem cells or stimulation of endogenous stem cells within the neurogenic niches of subventricular zone and subgranular zone, or recruited from the bone marrow through peripheral circulation. In this paper, we review the different sources of stem cells that have been tested in animal models of stroke. In addition, we discuss specific mechanisms of action, in particular neurovascular repair by endothelial progenitor cells, as key translational research for advancing the clinical applications of stem cells for ischemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3783263  PMID: 24077523
Cerebral ischemia; Cell-based therapies; Vasculature; Blood brain barrier; Endothelial cells
Future neurology  2013;8(2):193-203.
Stem cell therapy for adult stroke has reached limited clinical trials. Here, we provide translational research guidance on stem cell therapy for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury requiring a careful consideration of clinically relevant animal models, feasible stem cell sources, and validated safety and efficacy endpoint assays, as well as a general understanding of modes of action of this cellular therapy. To this end, we refer to existing translational guidelines, in particular the recommendations outlined in the consortium of academicians, industry partners and regulators called Stem cell Therapeutics as an Emerging Paradigm for Stroke or STEPS. Although the STEPS guidelines are directed at enhancing the successful outcome of cell therapy in adult stroke, we highlight overlapping pathologies between adult stroke and neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. We are, however, cognizant that the neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury displays disease symptoms distinct from adult stroke in need of an innovative translational approach that facilitates the entry of cell therapy in the clinic. Finally, insights into combination therapy are provided with the vision that stem cell therapy may benefit from available treatments, such as hypothermia, already being tested in children diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.
PMCID: PMC3615569  PMID: 23565051
cerebral palsy; stem cells; hypothermia; neurorestoration; translational; consortium; combination therapy
18.  Microglia Activation as a Biomarker for Traumatic Brain Injury 
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become the signature wound of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Injury may result from a mechanical force, a rapid acceleration-deceleration movement, or a blast wave. A cascade of secondary cell death events ensues after the initial injury. In particular, multiple inflammatory responses accompany TBI. A series of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines spreads to normal brain areas juxtaposed to the core impacted tissue. Among the repertoire of immune cells involved, microglia is a key player in propagating inflammation to tissues neighboring the core site of injury. Neuroprotective drug trials in TBI have failed, likely due to their sole focus on abrogating neuronal cell death and ignoring the microglia response despite these inflammatory cells’ detrimental effects on the brain. Another relevant point to consider is the veracity of results of animal experiments due to deficiencies in experimental design, such as incomplete or inadequate method description, data misinterpretation, and reporting may introduce bias and give false-positive results. Thus, scientific publications should follow strict guidelines that include randomization, blinding, sample-size estimation, and accurate handling of all data (Landis et al., 2012). A prolonged state of inflammation after brain injury may linger for years and predispose patients to develop other neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. TBI patients display progressive and long-lasting impairments in their physical, cognitive, behavioral, and social performance. Here, we discuss inflammatory mechanisms that accompany TBI in an effort to increase our understanding of the dynamic pathological condition as the disease evolves over time and begin to translate these findings for defining new and existing inflammation-based biomarkers and treatments for TBI.
PMCID: PMC3607801  PMID: 23531681
head trauma; microglia; inflammatory response; secondary cell death; anti-inflammatory therapy; brain imaging
19.  Nestin overexpression precedes caspase-3 upregulation in rats exposed to controlled cortical impact traumatic brain injury 
Cell medicine  2012;4(2):55-63.
Our understanding of biological mechanisms and treatment options for traumatic brain injury (TBI) is limited. Here, we employed quantitative real-time PCR (QRT-PCR) and immunohistochemical analyses to determine the dynamic expression of cell proliferation and apoptosis in an effort to provide insights into the therapeutic window for developing regenerative strategies for TBI. For this purpose, young adult Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to experimental TBI using a controlled cortical impactor, then euthanized 1-48 hours after TBI for QRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. QRT-PCR revealed that brains from TBI exposed rats initially displayed nestin mRNA expression that modestly increased as early as 1-hour post-TBI, then significantly peaked at 8 hours, but thereafter reverted to pre-TBI levels. On the other hand, caspase-3 mRNA expression was slightly elevated at 8 hours post-TBI, which did not become significantly upregulated until 48 hours. Immunofluorescent microscopy revealed a significant surge in nestin immunoreactive cells in the cortex, corpus callosum, and subventricular zone at 24 hours post-TBI, whereas a significant increase in the number of active caspase-3 immunoreactive cells was only found in the cortex and not until 48 hours. These results suggest that the injured brain attempts to repair itself via cell proliferation immediately after TBI, but that this endogenous regenerative mechanism is not sufficient to abrogate the secondary apoptotic cell death. Treatment strategies designed to amplify cell proliferation and to prevent apoptosis are likely to exert maximal benefits when initiated at the acute phase of TBI.
PMCID: PMC3478780  PMID: 23101029
cell proliferation; neurogenesis; apoptosis; head trauma; nestin; caspase-3
20.  One Small Baby STEPS, A Giant Leap for Cell Therapy in Neonatal Brain Injury 
Pediatric research  2011;70(1):3-9.
We advance Baby STEPS or Stem cell Therapeutics as an Emerging Paradigm for Stroke as a guide in facilitating the critical evaluation in the laboratory of the safety and efficacy of cell therapy for neonatal encephalopathy. The need to carefully consider the clinical relevance of the animal models in mimicking human neonatal brain injury, selection of the optimal stem cell donor, and the application of functional outcome assays in small and large animal models serve as the foundation for preclinical work and beginning to understand the mechanism of this cellular therapy. The preclinical studies will aid our formulation of a rigorous human clinical trial which encompasses not only efficacy testing but also monitoring of safety indices and demonstration of mechanisms of action. This schema forms the basis of Baby STEPS. Our goal is to resonate the urgent call to enhance the successful translation of cell therapy from the laboratory to the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3117246  PMID: 21659957
21.  Plasma and Brain Pharmacokinetics of Previously Unexplored Lithium Salts 
RSC advances  2014;4(24):12362-12365.
Despite its narrow therapeutic window, lithium is still regarded as the gold standard comparator and benchmark treatment for mania. Recent attempts to find new drugs with similar therapeutic activities have yielded new chemical entities. However, these potential new drugs have yet to match the many bioactivities attributable to lithium's efficacy for the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases. Consequently, an intense effort for re-engineering lithium therapeutics using crystal engineering is currently underway. We sought to improve the likelihood of success of these endeavors by evaluating the pharmacokinetics of previously unexplored lithium salts with organic anions (lithium salicylate and lithium lactate). We report that these lithium salts exhibit profoundly different pharmacokinetics compared to the more common FDA approved salt, lithium carbonate, in rats. Remarkably, lithium salicylate produced elevated plasma and brain levels of lithium beyond 48 hours post-dose without the sharp peak that contributes to the toxicity problems of current lithium therapeutics. These findings could be important for the development of the next generation of lithium therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC4100714  PMID: 25045517
22.  Toward Personalized Cell Therapies: Autologous Menstrual Blood Cells for Stroke 
Cell therapy has been established as an important field of research with considerable progress in the last years. At the same time, the progressive aging of the population has highlighted the importance of discovering therapeutic alternatives for diseases of high incidence and disability, such as stroke. Menstrual blood is a recently discovered source of stem cells with potential relevance for the treatment of stroke. Migration to the infarct site, modulation of the inflammatory reaction, secretion of neurotrophic factors, and possible differentiation warrant these cells as therapeutic tools. We here propose the use of autologous menstrual blood cells in the restorative treatment of the subacute phase of stroke. We highlight the availability, proliferative capacity, pluripotency, and angiogenic features of these cells and explore their mechanistic pathways of repair. Practical aspects of clinical application of menstrual blood cells for stroke will be discussed, from cell harvesting and cryopreservation to administration to the patient.
PMCID: PMC3227246  PMID: 22162629
23.  Acute Treatment With Herbal Extracts Provides Neuroprotective Benefits in In Vitro and In Vivo Stroke Models, Characterized by Reduced Ischemic Cell Death and Maintenance of Motor and Neurological Functions 
Cell medicine  2010;1(3):137-142.
The present study explored the prophylactic and restorative benefits of cacao and red sage using both in vitro and in vivo models of stroke. For the in vitro study, we initially exposed primary rat cells to the established oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) stroke model followed by reperfusion under normoxic conditions, then added different cacao and sage concentrations to the cell culture media. Trypan blue cell viability results revealed specific cacao and sage dosages exerted significant therapeutic effects against OGD-induced cell death compared to cultured cells treated with extract vehicle. We next embarked on testing the therapeutic effects of cacao and sage in an in vivo model of stroke when extract treatment commenced either prior to or after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo). Significant reduction in ischemic cell death within the peri-infarct area coupled with better performance in routine motor and neurological tasks were demonstrated by stroke animals that received cacao or sage extracts prior to MCAo compared to those that received the extracts or vehicle after MCAo. In summary, the present results demonstrate that neuroprotective effects were afforded by plant extract treatment, and that the in vitro stroke paradigm approximates in vivo efficacy when considering prophylactic treatment for stroke.
PMCID: PMC3048457  PMID: 21379315
Oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD); Stroke; Prophylactic; Middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo); Plant extracts
Technology and innovation  2010;12:21-28.
Emerging technologies have gained notoriety as a catalyst of socioeconomic progress, but have also inspired a revolution in ethics. Here, we provide an overview of ethics in stem cell-based therapies and offer a compelling argument for a need to establish an Ethics Research Consortium that will be tasked to assemble an interdisciplinary panel of experts who will apply ethical principles to analyze the social merit relative to the economic incentives of this emerging technology. Milestone studies on cell therapy in Parkinson’s disease and stroke over the last two decades were the focus of this commentary. The major criterion for study selection was based on public opinion, scientific discussion, and government reactions generated by these pioneering studies. Original data from the selected studies are presented. Interpretation and discussion of data captured the prevailing views of the public and scientific community, as well as the government regulatory and oversight decisions (i.e., ban on embryonic stem cell research funding). Lessons learned from two decades of cell-based therapies indicate that poor management of the public discourse of ethics concerning emerging technologies might have contributed to misperceptions within both the public and the research community that have hindered the progress of scientific innovation and even delayed the clinical application of potentially life-saving treatments to critically ill patients. We propose the creation of a Consortium that will evaluate how these novel ethical issues in emerging technologies are addressed under current oversight and regulatory structures and where there may be gaps and need for revised or new public policy approaches.
PMCID: PMC3043602  PMID: 21359115
Ethics; Embryonic stem cells; Adult stem cells; Transplantation
25.  Menstrual Blood Cells Display Stem Cell–Like Phenotypic Markers and Exert Neuroprotection Following Transplantation in Experimental Stroke 
Stem Cells and Development  2010;19(4):439-451.
Cell therapy remains an experimental treatment for neurological disorders. A major obstacle in pursuing the clinical application of this therapy is finding the optimal cell type that will allow benefit to a large patient population with minimal complications. A cell type that is a complete match of the transplant recipient appears as an optimal scenario. Here, we report that menstrual blood may be an important source of autologous stem cells. Immunocytochemical assays of cultured menstrual blood reveal that they express embryonic-like stem cell phenotypic markers (Oct4, SSEA, Nanog), and when grown in appropriate conditioned media, express neuronal phenotypic markers (Nestin, MAP2). In order to test the therapeutic potential of these cells, we used the in vitro stroke model of oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD) and found that OGD-exposed primary rat neurons that were co-cultured with menstrual blood-derived stem cells or exposed to the media collected from cultured menstrual blood exhibited significantly reduced cell death. Trophic factors, such as VEGF, BDNF, and NT-3, were up-regulated in the media of OGD-exposed cultured menstrual blood-derived stem cells. Transplantation of menstrual blood-derived stem cells, either intracerebrally or intravenously and without immunosuppression, after experimentally induced ischemic stroke in adult rats also significantly reduced behavioral and histological impairments compared to vehicle-infused rats. Menstrual blood-derived cells exemplify a source of “individually tailored” donor cells that completely match the transplant recipient, at least in women. The present neurostructural and behavioral benefits afforded by transplanted menstrual blood-derived cells support their use as a stem cell source for cell therapy in stroke.
PMCID: PMC3158424  PMID: 19860544

Results 1-25 (70)