Intravenous infusion of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from adult bone marrow improves behavioral function in rat stroke models. Rehabilitation therapy through physical exercise (Ex) also provides therapeutic efficacy for cerebral ischemia.
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether synergic effects of daily rehabilitation and intravenous infusion of MSCs has therapeutic effects after stroke in rats.
A permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) was induced by intraluminal vascular occlusion with a microfilament. Four experimental groups were studied: Group 1 (Vehicle only: Vehicle), Group 2 (Vehicle + exercise: Vehicle + Ex), Group 3 (MSCs only: MSCs) and Group 4 (MSCs + Ex: Combined). Rat MSCs were intravenously infused at 6 hours after MCAO and the rats received daily rehabilitation with treadmill running exercise for 20 min. Lesion size was assessed at 1, 14, 35 days using MR imaging. Functional outcome was assessed using the limb placement test.
Both combined therapy and MSC infusion reduced lesion volume, induced synaptogenesis and elicited functional improvement compared with the groups without MSC infusion, but the effect was greater in the combined group.
A limitation of this study is that the results were limited to an animal model and cannot be generalized to humans.
These data indicate that the combined therapy of daily rehabilitation and intravenous infusion of MSCs improved functional outcome in a rat MCAO model.