Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are well known having beneficial effects on intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in previous studies. The therapeutic mechanisms are mainly to investigate proliferation, differentiation, and immunomodulation. However, few studies have used MSCs to treat blood-brain barrier (BBB) leakage after ICH. The influence of MSCs on the BBB and its related mechanisms were investigated when MSCs were transplanted into rat ICH model in this study.
Adult male Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were randomly divided into sham-operated group, PBS-treated (ICH + PBS) group, and MSC-treated (ICH + MSC) group. ICH was induced by injection of IV collagenase into the rats' brains. MSCs were transplanted intravenously into the rats 2 h after ICH induction in MSC-treated group. The following factors were compared: inflammation, apoptosis, behavioral changes, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9), peroxynitrite (ONOO(-)), endothelial integrity, brain edema content, BBB leakage, TNF-α stimulated gene/protein 6 (TSG-6), and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling pathway.
In the ICH + MSC group, MSCs decreased the levels of proinflammatory cytokines and apoptosis, downregulated the density of microglia/macrophages and neutrophil infiltration at the ICH site, reduced the levels of iNOS and MMP-9, attenuated ONOO(-) formation, and increased the levels of zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) and claudin-5. MSCs also improved the degree of brain edema and BBB leakage. The protective effect of MSCs on the BBB in ICH rats was possibly invoked by increased expression of TSG-6, which may have suppressed activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway. The levels of iNOS and ONOO(-), which played an important role in BBB disruption, decreased due to the inhibitory effects of TSG-6 on the NF-κB signaling pathway.
Our results demonstrated that intravenous transplantation of MSCs decreased the levels of ONOO(-) and degree of BBB leakage and improved neurological recovery in a rat ICH model. This strategy may provide a new insight for future therapies that aim to prevent breakdown of the BBB in patients with ICH and eventually offer therapeutic options for ICH.