Neural cell transplantation has been proposed as a treatment after stroke. The purpose of this study was to establish if human neural stem cells (HNSCs) could survive in the nonhuman primate brain after an ischemic event.
Three adult cynomolgus monkeys received a unilateral occlusion of the M1 segment of the right middle cerebral artery (MCA). One week later each animal received five magnetic resonance (MR) image–guided stereotactic intracerebral injections of HNSC neurospheres labeled with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) in the areas surrounding the ischemic lesion as defined in T1- and T2-weighted images. On the day of transplantation and throughout the study the monkeys received oral cyclosporine (10 mg/kg twice a day), and plasma levels were monitored routinely. The animals were killed at 45, 75, or 105 days after transplantation. Magnetic resonance images revealed a cortical and subcortical infarction in the MCA distribution area. Postmortem morphological brain analyses confirmed the distribution of the infarcted area seen in the MR images, with loss of tissue and necrosis in the ischemic region. Cells that were positive for BrdU were present in the three experimental monkeys, mainly along injection tracks. Double-label immuno-fluorescence for BrdU and βIII-tubulin (a marker of young neurons) revealed colocalization of few HNSCs, most of which were observed outside the immediate injection site. Colocalization with nestin was also observed, indicating an early neural/glial fate.
In a model of stroke in nonhuman primates, HNSCs can survive up to 105 days when transplanted 1 week after an ischemic event and can partly undergo neuronal differentiation.