Researchers at the Henry Ford Health System (Detroit, MI) and colleagues at Saneron CCEL Therapeutics, Inc. of Tampa, Florida, have found that when human umbilical cord blood cells (HUCBCs) were transplanted into test rats modeled with stroke, the addition of Simvastatin to the HUCBCs significantly increased the therapeutic benefit of the HUCBCs.
The study was published in a recent issue of Neuroscience (227:223-231)
According to N. Kuzmin-Nichols, Saneron president and COO, the combination treatment, delivered 24 hours after the test animals were subjected to simulated stroke, showed an interactive effect in improving neurological outcome. When compared with monotherapy, the combination therapy increased densities of key blood vessels, arteries, and smooth muscle cells in vascular walls.
"HUCBCs are a source for blood stem cells, endothelial cell precursors, mensenchymal cell progenitors, and other multipotent and pluripotent stem cells," said Kuzmin-Nichols. "They offer a promising therapy for stroke. However, when HUCBCs are used alone, and injected via a vascular route for brain repair, success has been limited."
Because the drug Simvastatin has been demonstrated to be a neurorestorative and neuroprotective agent in ischemic brain injury, the research team hypothesized that the combination of therapeutic doses of Simvastatin and HUCBCs would increase the expression of Angiopoietin-1(Ang-1, a protein with important roles in vascular development and blood vessel growth) and its receptor Tie2 (a cell-surface receptor that binds with Ang-1). Both Ang-1 and Tie2 promote vascular stabilization and artery growth and could enhance blood vessel remodeling (angiogenesis) after stroke, said the researchers.
According to the researchers, HUCBCs contain a "ready supply" of neurotrophic and angiogenic factors that induce neurogenesis (neural cell repair) and angiogenesis (blood vessel growth), both of which are critical to promoting neurological recovery post stroke. While transplanted HUCBCs have been found to selectively migrate to the injured brain, past and recent research has discovered that few transplanted HUCBCs express neural cell characteristics, and few find their way to the ischemic region of the brain.