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.
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.
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.
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.