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Yuxia Han, Don Seyfried, Yuling Meng, Dongmei Yang, Lonni Schultz, Michael Chopp and Donald Seyfried

OBJECTIVE

Previous studies have demonstrated that transplanted multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) improve functional recovery in rats after experimental intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). In this study the authors tested the hypothesis that administration of multipotent MSC-derived exosomes promotes functional recovery, neurovascular remodeling, and neurogenesis in a rat model of ICH.

METHODS

Sixteen adult male Wistar rats were subjected to ICH via blood injection into the striatum, followed 24 hours later by tail vein injection of 100 μg protein of MSC-derived exosomes (treatment group, 8 rats) or an equal volume of vehicle (control group, 8 rats); an additional 8 rats that had identical surgery without blood infusion were used as a sham group. The modified Morris water maze (mMWM), modified Neurological Severity Score (mNSS), and social odor–based novelty recognition tests were performed to evaluate cognitive and sensorimotor functional recovery after ICH. All 24 animals were killed 28 days after ICH or sham procedure. Histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses were performed for measurements of lesion volume and neurovascular and white matter remodeling.

RESULTS

Compared with the saline-treated controls, exosome-treated ICH rats showed significant improvement in the neurological function of spatial learning and motor recovery measured at 26–28 days by mMWM and starting at day 14 by mNSS (p < 0.05). Senorimotor functional improvement was measured by a social odor–based novelty recognition test (p < 0.05). Exosome treatment significantly increased newly generated endothelial cells in the hemorrhagic boundary zone, neuroblasts and mature neurons in the subventricular zone, and myelin in the striatum without altering the lesion volume.

CONCLUSIONS

MSC-derived exosomes effectively improve functional recovery after ICH, possibly by promoting endogenous angiogenesis and neurogenesis in rats after ICH. Thus, cell-free, MSC-derived exosomes may be a novel therapy for ICH.

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Yanlu Zhang, Michael Chopp, Zheng Gang Zhang, Yi Zhang, Li Zhang, Mei Lu, Talan Zhang, Stefan Winter, Hemma Brandstätter, Asim Mahmood and Ye Xiong

OBJECTIVE

Cerebrolysin is a neuropeptide preparation that mimics the properties of neurotrophic factors and has had beneficial effects in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). To further evaluate treatment schemes, the authors assessed the dose-response of Cerebrolysin on functional improvement in a rat model of mild TBI (mTBI).

METHODS

This dose-response study was a prospective, randomized, blinded, and placebo-controlled preclinical experiment. Male Wistar adult rats, subjected to mTBI induced by a closed head impact, were treated randomly with 0 (saline as placebo), 0.8, 2.5, or 7.5 ml/kg of Cerebrolysin 4 hours after mTBI and daily for a total of 10 consecutive days. A battery of cognitive and sensorimotor functional tests was performed over 90 days.

RESULTS

The primary outcome was functional improvement over the 90 days; animal weight and death were the secondary and safety outcomes, respectively. A significant (p < 0.001) dose effect of Cerebrolysin on cognitive recovery 3 months after injury was found. Cerebrolysin at a dose of ≥ 0.8 ml/kg significantly (p < 0.001) improved cognitive outcome. The higher dose (7.5 ml/kg) resulted in significantly better cognitive recovery than the lowest doses (0.8 ml/kg) but not relative to the 2.5-ml/kg dose. Cerebrolysin at a dose of 2.5 or 7.5 ml/kg also caused different onset times of significant improvement in sensorimotor function. No differences in body weight or mortality rate among the groups were found.

CONCLUSIONS

This preclinical randomized, placebo-controlled, and blinded study with a clinically relevant treatment scheme revealed that Cerebrolysin at doses of 0.8–7.5 ml/kg, administered 4 hours after mTBI and then once daily for a total of 10 consecutive days, improved functional outcomes 3 months after injury. A dose of 2.5 ml/kg is likely an optimal dose for the treatment of experimental mTBI.

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Yanlu Zhang, Zheng Gang Zhang, Michael Chopp, Yuling Meng, Li Zhang, Asim Mahmood and Ye Xiong

OBJECTIVE

The authors' previous studies have suggested that thymosin beta 4 (Tβ4), a major actin-sequestering protein, improves functional recovery after neural injury. N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline (AcSDKP) is an active peptide fragment of Tβ4. Its effect as a treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has not been investigated. Thus, this study was designed to determine whether AcSDKP treatment improves functional recovery in rats after TBI.

METHODS

Young adult male Wistar rats were randomly divided into the following groups: 1) sham group (no injury); 2) TBI + vehicle group (0.01 N acetic acid); and 3) TBI + AcSDKP (0.8 mg/kg/day). TBI was induced by controlled cortical impact over the left parietal cortex. AcSDKP or vehicle was administered subcutaneously starting 1 hour postinjury and continuously for 3 days using an osmotic minipump. Sensorimotor function and spatial learning were assessed using a modified Neurological Severity Score and Morris water maze tests, respectively. Some of the animals were euthanized 1 day after injury, and their brains were processed for measurement of fibrin accumulation and neuroinflammation signaling pathways. The remaining animals were euthanized 35 days after injury, and brain sections were processed for measurement of lesion volume, hippocampal cell loss, angiogenesis, neurogenesis, and dendritic spine remodeling.

RESULTS

Compared with vehicle treatment, AcSDKP treatment initiated 1 hour postinjury significantly improved sensorimotor functional recovery (Days 7–35, p < 0.05) and spatial learning (Days 33–35, p < 0.05), reduced cortical lesion volume, and hippocampal neuronal cell loss, reduced fibrin accumulation and activation of microglia/macrophages, enhanced angiogenesis and neurogenesis, and increased the number of dendritic spines in the injured brain (p < 0.05). AcSDKP treatment also significantly inhibited the transforming growth factor–β1/nuclear factor–κB signaling pathway.

CONCLUSIONS

AcSDKP treatment initiated 1 hour postinjury provides neuroprotection and neurorestoration after TBI, indicating that this small tetrapeptide has promising therapeutic potential for treatment of TBI. Further investigation of the optimal dose and therapeutic window of AcSDKP treatment for TBI and the associated underlying mechanisms is therefore warranted.

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Yanlu Zhang, Michael Chopp, Yuling Meng, Zheng Gang Zhang, Edith Doppler, Stefan Winter, Timothy Schallert, Asim Mahmood and Ye Xiong

OBJECT

Long-term memory deficits occur after mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs), and effective treatment modalities are currently unavailable. Cerebrolysin, a peptide preparation mimicking the action of neurotrophic factors, has beneficial effects on neurodegenerative diseases and brain injuries. The present study investigated the long-term effects of Cerebrolysin treatment on cognitive function in rats after mTBI.

METHODS

Rats subjected to closed-head mTBI were treated with saline (n = 11) or Cerebrolysin (2.5 ml/kg, n = 11) starting 24 hours after injury and then daily for 28 days. Sham animals underwent surgery without injury (n = 8). To evaluate cognitive function, the modified Morris water maze (MWM) test and a social odor–based novelty recognition task were performed after mTBI. All rats were killed on Day 90 after mTBI, and brain sections were immunostained for histological analyses of amyloid precursor protein (APP), astrogliosis, neuroblasts, and neurogenesis.

RESULTS

Mild TBI caused long-lasting cognitive memory deficits in the MWM and social odor recognition tests up to 90 days after injury. Compared with saline treatment, Cerebrolysin treatment significantly improved both long-term spatial learning and memory in the MWM test and nonspatial recognition memory in the social odor recognition task up to 90 days after mTBI (p < 0.05). Cerebrolysin significantly increased the number of neuroblasts and promoted neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus, and it reduced APP levels and astrogliosis in the corpus callosum, cortex, dentate gyrus, CA1, and CA3 regions (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

These results indicate that Cerebrolysin treatment of mTBI improves long-term cognitive function, and this improvement may be partially related to decreased brain APP accumulation and astrogliosis as well as increased neuroblasts and neurogenesis.

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Yanlu Zhang, Michael Chopp, Yuling Meng, Mark Katakowski, Hongqi Xin, Asim Mahmood and Ye Xiong

OBJECT

Transplanted multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) improve functional recovery in rats after traumatic brain injury (TBI). In this study the authors tested a novel hypothesis that systemic administration of cell-free exosomes generated from MSCs promotes functional recovery and neurovascular remodeling in rats after TBI.

METHODS

Two groups of 8 Wistar rats were subjected to TBI, followed 24 hours later by tail vein injection of 100 μg protein of exosomes derived from MSCs or an equal volume of vehicle (phosphate-buffered saline). A third group of 8 rats was used as sham-injured, sham-treated controls. To evaluate cognitive and sensorimotor functional recovery, the modified Morris water maze, modified Neurological Severity Score, and foot-fault tests were performed. Animals were killed at 35 days after TBI. Histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses were performed for measurements of lesion volume, neurovascular remodeling (angiogenesis and neurogenesis), and neuroinflammation.

RESULTS

Compared with the saline-treated group, exosome-treated rats with TBI showed significant improvement in spatial learning at 34–35 days as measured by the modified Morris water maze test (p < 0.05), and sensorimotor functional recovery (i.e., reduced neurological deficits and foot-fault frequency) was observed at 14–35 days postinjury (p < 0.05). Exosome treatment significantly increased the number of newly generated endothelial cells in the lesion boundary zone and dentate gyrus and significantly increased the number of newly formed immature and mature neurons in the dentate gyrus as well as reducing neuroinflammation.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors demonstrate for the first time that MSC-generated exosomes effectively improve functional recovery, at least in part, by promoting endogenous angiogenesis and neurogenesis and by reducing inflammation in rats after TBI. Thus, MSC-generated exosomes may provide a novel cell-free therapy for TBI and possibly for other neurological diseases.

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Asim Mahmood, Hongtao Wu, Changsheng Qu, Selina Mahmood, Ye Xiong, David L. Kaplan and Michael Chopp

Object

Neurocan is a major form of growth-inhibitory molecule (growth-IM) that suppresses axonal regeneration after neural injury. Bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs) have been shown to inhibit neurocan expression in vitro and in animal models of cerebral ischemia. Therefore, the present study was designed to investigate the effects of treatment of MSCs impregnated with collagen scaffolds on neurocan expression after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Methods

Adult male Wistar rats were injured with controlled cortical impact and treated with saline, human MSCs (hMSCs) (3 × 106) alone, or hMSCs (3 × 106) impregnated into collagen scaffolds (scaffold + hMSCs) transplanted into the lesion cavity 7 days after TBI (20 rats per group). Rats were sacrificed 14 days after TBI, and brain tissues were harvested for immunohistochemical studies, Western blot analyses, laser capture microdissections, and quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) to evaluate neurocan protein and gene expressions after various treatments.

Results

Animals treated with scaffold + hMSCs after TBI showed increased axonal and synaptic densities compared with the other groups. Scaffold + hMSC treatment was associated with reduced TBI-induced neurocan protein expression and upregulated growth-associated protein 43 (GAP-43) and synaptophysin expression in the lesion boundary zone. In addition, animals in the scaffold + hMSC group had decreased neurocan transcription in reactive astrocytes after TBI. Reduction of neurocan expression was significantly greater in the scaffold + hMSC group than in the group treated with hMSCs alone.

Conclusions

The results of this study show that transplanting hMSCs with scaffolds enhances the effect of hMSCs on axonal plasticity in TBI rats. This enhanced axonal plasticity may partially be attributed to the downregulation of neurocan expression by hMSC treatment after injury.

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Jung-Chun Lin, Te-Jung Liu, Shih-Wei Hsu, Kuan-Yin Tseng, Tung-Han Tsai, Hsin-I Ma and Dueng-Yuan Hueng