Endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) isolated from pediatric patients with moyamoya disease (MMD) have demonstrated decreased numbers and defective functioning in in vitro experiments. However, the function of ECFCs has not been evaluated using in vivo animal models. In this study, the authors compared normal and MMD ECFCs using a chronic cerebral hypoperfusion (CCH) rat model.
A CCH rat model was made via ligation of the bilateral common carotid arteries (2-vessel occlusion [2-VO]). The rats were divided into three experimental groups: vehicle-treated (n = 8), normal ECFC-treated (n = 8), and MMD ECFC-treated (n = 8). ECFCs were injected into the cisterna magna. A laser Doppler flowmeter was used to evaluate cerebral blood flow, and a radial arm maze test was used to examine cognitive function. Neuropathological examinations of the hippocampus and agranular cortex were performed using hematoxylin and eosin and Luxol fast blue staining in addition to immunofluorescence with CD31, von Willebrand factor, NeuN, myelin basic protein, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and cleaved caspase-3 antibodies.
The normal ECFC-treated group exhibited improvement in the restoration of cerebral perfusion and in behavior compared with the vehicle-treated and MMD ECFC-treated groups at the 12-week follow-up after the 2-VO surgery. The normal ECFC-treated group showed a greater amount of neovasculogenesis and neurogenesis, with less apoptosis, than the other groups.
These results support the impaired functional recovery of MMD ECFCs compared with normal ECFCs in a CCH rat model. This in vivo study suggests the functional role of ECFCs in the pathogenesis of MMD.