Delayed treatment with human dental pulp stem cells accelerates functional recovery and modifies responses of peri-infarct astrocytes following photothrombotic stroke in rats

Wai Ping Yew, Natalia D. Djukic, Jaya S.P. Jayaseelan, Xenia Kaidonis, Karlea L. Kremer, Fong Chan Choy, Richard J. Woodman, Simon A. Koblar, Neil R. Sims

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Dental pulp contains multipotent mesenchymal stem cells that improve outcomes when administered early after temporary middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats. To further assess the therapeutic potential of these cells, we tested whether functional recovery following stroke induced by photothrombosis could be modified by a delayed treatment that was initiated after the infarct attained maximal volume. Photothrombosis induces permanent focal ischemia resulting in tissue changes that better reflect key aspects of the many human strokes in which early restoration of blood flow does not occur. Human dental pulp stem cells (approximately 400 × 103 viable cells) or vehicle were injected into the infarct and adjacent brain tissue of Sprague-Dawley rats at 3 days after the induction of unilateral photothrombotic stroke in the sensorimotor cortex. Forepaw function was tested up to 28 days after stroke. Cellular changes in peri-infarct tissue at 28 days were assessed using immunohistochemistry. Rats treated with the stem cells showed faster recovery compared with vehicle-treated animals in a test of forelimb placing in response to vibrissae stimulation and in first attempt success in a skilled forelimb reaching test. Total success in the skilled reaching test and forepaw use during exploration in a Perspex cylinder were not significantly different between the 2 groups. At 28 days after stroke, rats treated with the stem cells showed decreased immunolabeling for glial fibrillary acidic protein in tissue up to 1 mm from the infarct, suggesting decreased reactive astrogliosis. Synaptophysin, a marker of synapses, and collagen IV, a marker of capillaries, were not significantly altered at this time by the stem-cell treatment. These results indicate that dental pulp stem cells can accelerate recovery without modifying initial infarct formation. Decreases in reactive astrogliosis in peri-infarct tissue could have contributed to the change by promoting adaptive responses in neighboring neurons.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Transplantation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • astrocytes
  • dental pulp stem cells
  • focal ischemia
  • functional recovery
  • peri-infarct
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation

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