A team of researchers from Academia Sinica, Taipei, Republic of China, and China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Republic of China, have now shown that rats transplanted with cells isolated from human nasal polyps have improved brain function following a stroke compared with rats not transplanted with these cells.
The authors therefore suggest that isolating these cells from individuals who have had a stroke and transplanting them back into the brains of these individuals might provide clinical benefit.
In the study, cells known as olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) and olfactory nerve fibroblasts (ONFs) were isolated from human nasal polyps and characterized in vitro. Rats implanted with human OECs and ONFs performed better in tasks measuring their brain function (e.g., tasks assessing their movement) following a stroke than did rats not transplanted with these cells.
Further work determined some of the mechanisms by which OECs and ONFs mediated their beneficial effects.
Specifically, OECs and ONFs induced nerve cell growth by a process that involved increased expression of the soluble factor SDF-1-alpha, the protein to which it binds, and cellular prion protein. In addition, when transplanted into mice, OECs and ONFs induced stem cells to home to the site of brain damage following a stroke.
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