Cell transplantation has emerged as a potential therapy to reduce the neurological deficits caused by ischemic stroke. We previously reported a primitive cell population, monocyte-derived multipotential cells (MOMCs), which can differentiate into mesenchymal, neuronal, and endothelial lineages. In this study, MOMCs and macrophages were prepared from rat peripheral blood and transplanted intracranially into the ischemic core of syngeneic rats that had undergone a left middle cerebral artery occlusion procedure. Neurological deficits, as evaluated by the corner test, were less severe in the MOMC-transplanted rats than in macrophage-transplanted or mock-treated rats. Histological evaluations revealed that the number of microvessels that had formed in the ischemic boundary area by 4 weeks after transplantation was significantly greater in the MOMC-transplanted rats than in the control groups. The blood vessel formation was preceded by the appearance of round CD31 + cells, which we confirmed were derived from the transplanted MOMCs. Small numbers of bloodvessels incorporating MOMC-derived endothelial cells expressing a mature endothelial marker RECA-1 were detected at 4 weeks after transplantation. In addition, MOMCs expressed a series of angiogenic factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor, angiopoetin-1, and placenta growth factor (PlGF). These findings provide evidence that the intracranial delivery of MOMCs enhances functional recovery by promoting neovascularization in a rat model for ischemic stroke.
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