Intracerebral (IC) grafting of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is not currently used in humans due to its potential complications. On the other hand, intra-arterial (IA) administration can be facilitated for engrafting of intensifed MSCs in the injured human brain. The study is designed to compare the two methods of MSC administration using IA and IC routes through the parameters of behavior, infarct volume, cell distribution, and MSC identification. An ischemic stroke model was generated in Sprague Dawley male rats. This experiment used MSCs/Ngn1 that express Neurogenin1 (Ngn1) to ensure grafted MSC maintenance. MSCs/Ngn1 or normal saline was administrated via the IC or IA route on day 3. All animals were randomly assigned into four groups (five rats in each group): IC-control, IA-control, IC-MSCs/Ngn1, or IA-MSCs/Ngn1. Motor behaviors, infarct volume, and distribution of superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO)-labeled cells on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were compared from each group. There were no baseline differencess in motor behaviors or infarct volume between IC-MSCs/Ngn1 and IA-MSCs/Ngn1. Hovever, the IA-MSCs/Ngn1 group showed the greatest recovery on Rotarod testing and adhesive removal tests (p = 0.003 and p = 0.009 vs. IC-MSCs/Ngn1, respectively). The IA-MSCs/Ngn1 group also had more evenly distributed SPIO-labeled cells on MRI. The results suggest that IA administration is likely to be benefcial for humans based on its ability to improve behavioral outcomes and ensure even MSC engrafting.
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