Cell transplantation offers a novel therapeutic strategy for stroke; however, how transplanted cells function in vivo is poorly understood. We show for the first time that after subacute transplantation into the ischemic brain of human central nervous system stem cells grown as neurospheres (hCNS-SCns), the stem cell-secreted factor, human vascular endothelial growth factor (hVEGF), is necessary for cell-induced functional recovery. We correlate this functional recovery to hVEGF-induced effects on the host brain including multiple facets of vascular repair and its unexpected suppression of the inflammatory response. We found that transplanted hCNS-SCns affected multiple parameters in the brain with different kinetics: early improvement in blood-brain barrier integrity and suppression of inflammation was followed by a delayed spatiotemporal regulated increase in neovascularization. These events coincided with a bimodal pattern of functional recovery, with, an early recovery independent of neovascularization, and a delayed hVEGF-dependent recovery coincident with neovascularization. Therefore, cell transplantation therapy offers an exciting multimodal strategy for brain repair in stroke and potentially other disorders with a vascular or inflammatory component.
- Blood-brain barrier