Researchers transplanted pre-treated MSCs into one group of brain injured rats and also used a control group of animals that received MSCs that were not pre-treated with melatonin.
Study results demonstrated that the melatonin pre-treated MSCs had "enhanced survival under oxidative stimulation by activating the Erk1/2 pathway" (extracellular signal-regulated kinases), a chain of proteins in the cell that communicates a signal from a receptor on the surface of the cell to the DNA in the nucleus of the cell.
"Our study demonstrated increased survival of transplanted MSCs and revealed that the pre-treated MSCs reduced infarct volume and improved neurobehavioral outcomes for at least 14 days," said Dr. Yang.
The researchers noted that the impact of pre-treatment with melatonin was not MSC differentiation, and that development into mature brain cells was not an important factor in the beneficial effects derived from transplantation of either the untreated or the pre-treated cells. They suggested that the transplantation of MSCs pre-treated with melatonin may have a positive impact on the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is a signal protein produced by cells that stimulate vascular and blood vessel growth that can help restore the oxygen supply to tissues when blood circulation is inadequate.
"Our study demonstrated that melatonin pre-treatment promoted MSC survival in the laboratory setting and augmented the therapeutic efficiency of MSCs in the rat brain. The protective effect of melatonin is achieved by activation of the Erk1/2 pathway," they concluded. "This strategy of pre-treating stem cells may represent a safe approach for improving the beneficial effects of stem cell therapy for cerebral ischemia."
"It is important to identify factors that can impact on the survival of stem cells following their potential therapeutic use for a variety of neurological disor
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Cell Transplantation Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair