Neonatal White Matter Injury (NWMI) is the leading cause of cerebral palsy and other neurocognitive deficits in prematurely-born children, and no restorative therapies exist. Our objective was to determine the fate and effect of glial restricted precursor cell (GRP) transplantation in an ischemic mouse model of NWMI.
Neonatal CD-1 mice underwent unilateral carotid artery ligation on postnatal-day 5 (P5). At P22, intracallosal injections of either eGFP+ GRPs or saline were performed in control and ligated mice. Neurobehavioral and postmortem studies were performed at four and eight weeks post-transplantation.
GRP survival was comparable at one month but significantly lower at two months post-transplantation in NWMI mice compared to unligated controls. Surviving cells showed better migration capability in controls; however, the differentiation capacity of transplanted cells was similar in control and NWMI. Saline-treated NWMI mice showed significantly altered response in startle amplitude and pre-pulse inhibition paradigms compared to unligated controls, while these behavioral tests were completely normal in GRP-transplanted animals. Similarly, there was significant increase in hemispheric myelin basic protein density, along with significant decrease in pathologic axonal staining in cell-treated NWMI mice compared to saline-treated NWMI animals.
The Reduced long-term survival and migration of transplanted GRPs in an ischemia-induced NWMI model suggests that neonatal ischemia leads to long-lasting detrimental effects on oligodendroglia even months after the initial insult. Despite limited GRP-survival, behavioral and neuropathological outcomes were improved after GRP-transplantation. Our results suggest that exogenous GRPs improve myelination through trophic effects in addition to differentiation into mature oligodendrocytes.