According to the CDC, in 2019, traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributed to nearly 61,000 deaths in the United States alone[1]. While there are several clinical treatments designed to address the neurological dysfunction after sustaining a TBI, including hyperbaric oxygen, brain stimulation, and behavioral therapy, none appear to produce satisfactory or lasting results.

In recent years, several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of various stem cells, including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), neural stem cells (NSCs), Multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs), and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in the treatment of neurological impairment resulting from TBI. Specific benefits of these stem cells observed throughout these studies demonstrate that exogenous stem cells have the ability to migrate to the site of damaged brain tissue,  help to repair damaged tissue, and significantly improve neurological function.

In this article, Zhou et al. review recent findings on the role, effects, deficiencies, and related mechanisms of the various stem cells being used as therapeutic agents in the treatment of TBI.

Examining numerous studies occurring between 2010-17 and exploring various TBI models and the roles of different stem cells in animal models, the author’s general summary is that the use of stem cells demonstrated some form of measurable improvement in every study reviewed.  As a reference, specific observed benefits included improved integrity of the blood-brain barrier; improved neurological function, social interaction, and motor performance; enhanced neurovascular repair and recovery; and enhanced cognitive and spatial learning, information retention, and memory retrieval.

The authors point out that although there appears to be a large amount of research exploring the complexity of pathophysiology and the application of stem cell therapy for treating TBI, many problems still exist and must be addressed before the best method for TBI recovery can be determined.

Specifically, while there have been several clinical studies exploring the role of stem cells in the role of TBI treatment and recovery, and while most demonstrate promising results, the studies have almost universally been completed on mice and/or rats, contained human sample sizes that are not large enough,  or failed to include a control group.  As a result, Zhou et al. call for further study, including multi-center long term follow-up and randomized prospective trials that examine the safety of stem cells, route of injection, the time of injection, and the specific mechanisms as a way to identify the appropriate and effective stem-cell-based therapeutic treatment options for those suffering from various types of TBI.

Source:  (2019, August 13). Advance of Stem Cell Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6700304/

[1] (2021, May 12). Get the Facts About TBI | Concussion …. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html

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