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Intravenous Cord Blood Cells Rejuvenate Aging Brains, Replenish Neural Progenitor Cells

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:13pm
Researchers in Florida have managed to rejuvenate the brains of aging mice with a single injection of human cord blood cells in a peripheral vein. The single cord blood cell injection resulted in new progenitor stem cells in the mouse hippocampus, and new nerve cell formation.
Neurogenesis continues to occur throughout life but dramatically decreases with increasing age. This decrease is mostly related to a decline in proliferative activity as a result of an impoverishment of the microenvironment of the aged brain, including a reduction in trophic factors and increased inflammation.

We determined that human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells (UCBMC) given peripherally, by an intravenous injection, could rejuvenate the proliferative activity of the aged neural stem/progenitor cells. This increase in proliferation lasted for at least 15 days after the delivery of the UCBMC. Along with the increase in proliferation following UCBMC treatment, an increase in neurogenesis was also found in the aged animals. The increase in neurogenesis as a result of UCBMC treatment seemed to be due to a decrease in inflammation, as a decrease in the number of activated microglia was found and this decrease correlated with the increase in neurogenesis.

The results demonstrate that a single intravenous injection of UCBMC in aged rats can significantly improve the microenvironment of the aged hippocampus and rejuvenate the aged neural stem/progenitor cells. Our results raise the possibility of a peripherally administered cell therapy as an effective approach to improve the microenvironment of the aged brain.

...Not only do the results of this study provide novel insight into the state of the aged stem cell niche, the ability of the UCBMC to exert their effects while being administered minimally invasively may make translation to the clinical setting more likely. For this reason it will be important in future studies to determine the most efficacious dose and dosing regimen. Nevertheless, this is the first time that a systemic injection of hematopoietic cells has been shown to restore the regenerative potential of the aged brain, providing a novel insight into how the regenerative potential of the aged stem cell niches could be restored.

...The effects of UCBMC have been attributed to changes in the microenvironment of the brain, through the release of trophic factors or by reducing inflammation, and not by a direct replacement of cells [ 21-23 ]. UCBMC contains a number of cell types including B-Cells and T-Cells, as well as, mesenchymal and endothelial progenitor cells. UCBMC is also a rich source of CD34 + hematopoietic stem cells [ 24-26 ]. It was recently demonstrated that a systemic injection of UCBMC cells could suppress inflammation in the brain following stroke. Moreover, the effects of UCBMC cells seemed to shift the cytokine expression from a Th1 response to a Th2 response [ 20, 23, 27 ]. In addition to the immune modulatory effects, UCBMC cells also produce a number of trophic factors including, but not limited to, VEGF, nerve growth factor, and cytokine colony stimulating factor-1, thrombopoietin, and IL11 [ 20, 28, 29 ]. ___ BiomedCentral __via_ madscience __via__ TechnutNews

It is important to understand that the cells that were injected into the peripheral veins of mice were human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells (HUCBMCs). The results are somewhat startling, given that the injected cells were not neural stem cells, the cells were not injected directly into the brain, and the cells were given in a single dose only. It will be important for the researchers to tease out the important cellular and trophic factors present in the UCBMC's that may have led to the rejuvenatory effects.

This is a line of research that I am interested in following further.
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