For a long time it has been posed that induced pluripotent stem cells or iPSC have a great potential in the treatment of certain health issues, what’s more, attending to the results of a recently published study in the journal PNAS 1, iPSC can be helpful to revert brain stroke damage in mice.
Sara Palma-Tortosa and colleagues found that in mice, the transplantation of iPSC into stroke-affected brains led to a functional recovery associated with the succesful integration of these cells into the neural network.
iPSC are cells that though originally having a specific function they can be reversed to a more undifferentiated state and from there evolve to other cell types. In these case, the used iPSC were expected to differentiate into neurons, once transplanted into the damaged brains of post-stroke mice.
iPSC transplant useful to revert brain stroke damage through functional neurons
The thorough research by means of tracking techniques, electron microscopy, light-induced neuron inhibition and motoric tests performed by the Swedish research group showed that six months after iPSC transplant were the cells not only there and properly differentiated, but also that they were active and had made the proper neuronal connections to allow for functional recovery.
For instance, using rabies virus–based transsynaptic tracing, they found that host neurons in the contralateral somatosensory cortex receive monosynaptic inputs from iPSC-derived neurons. Immunoelectron microscopy demonstrates myelination of iPSC-derived axons and that they form excitatory, glutamatergic synapses on host cortical neurons. Using light to induce inhibition of labeled iPSC-derived neurons showed that the function of these cells is involved in maintaing normal motor function.
Most surprisingly, the team discovered that these transplanted cells also extended projections to the other brain hemisphere, which probably helps restore motor function.
This research expands on the possibilities of iPSC as treatment for disease. However, there is a long way to go to take this research to humans: first, other brain functions, like memory, need to be examined after transplantation and side-effects, especially long-term ones need to be discarded before moving on to making it a reality for brain stroke treatment.