Preterm infants are at high risk for white matter injury and subsequent neurodevelopmental impairments. Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC) have anti-inflammatory/immunomodulatory actions and are of interest for neural repair in adults and newborns. This study examined the neuroprotective effects of allogeneic MSC, derived from preterm umbilical cord blood (UCB), in a preterm sheep model of white matter injury.Quad-lineage differentiation, clonogenicity and self-renewal ability of UCB-derived MSC were confirmed. Chronically instrumented fetal sheep (0.7 gestation) received either 25 min hypoxia-ischemia (HI) to induce preterm brain injury, or sham-HI. Ten million MSC, or saline, were administered iv to fetuses at 12 h after HI. Fetal brains were collected 10d after HI for histopathology and immunocytochemistry.HI induced white matter injury, as indicated by a reduction in CNPase-positive myelin fiber density. HI also induced microglial activation (Iba-1) in the periventricular white matter and internal capsule (P < .05 vs control). MSC administration following HI preserved myelination (P < .05), modified microglial activation, and promoted macrophage migration (CD163) and cell proliferation (Ki-67) within cerebral white matter (P < .05). Cerebral CXCL10 concentration was increased following MSC administration (P < .05), which was likely associated with macrophage migration and cell proliferation within the preterm brain. Additionally, MSC administration reduced systemic pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFα at 3d post-HI (P < .05).UCB-derived MSC therapy preserved white matter brain structure following preterm HI, mediated by a suppression of microglial activation, promotion of macrophage migration and acceleration of self-repair within the preterm brain. UCB-derived MSC are neuroprotective, acting via peripheral and cerebral anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory mechanisms.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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