Amelioration of Penetrating Ballistic-Like Brain Injury Induced Cognitive Deficits after Neuronal Differentiation of Transplanted Human Neural Stem Cells

Markus S. Spurlock, Aminul I. Ahmed, Karla N. Rivera, Shoji Yokobori, Stephanie W. Lee, Pingdewinde N. Sam, Deborah A. Shear, Michael P. Hefferan, Thomas G. Hazel, Karl K. Johe, Shyam Gajavelli*, Frank C. Tortella, Ross M. Bullock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Penetrating traumatic brain injury (PTBI) is one of the major cause of death and disability worldwide. Previous studies with penetrating ballistic-like brain injury (PBBI), a PTBI rat model revealed widespread perilesional neurodegeneration, similar to that seen in humans following gunshot wound to the head, which is unmitigated by any available therapies to date. Therefore, we evaluated human neural stem cell (hNSC) engraftment to putatively exploit the potential of cell therapy that has been seen in other central nervous system injury models. Toward this objective, green fluorescent protein (GFP) labeled hNSC (400,000 per animal) were transplanted in immunosuppressed Sprague-Dawley (SD), Fisher, and athymic (ATN) PBBI rats 1 week after injury. Tacrolimus (3 mg/kg 2 days prior to transplantation, then 1 mg/kg/day), methylprednisolone (10 mg/kg on the day of transplant, 1 mg/kg/week thereafter), and mycophenolate mofetil (30 mg/kg/day) for 7 days following transplantation were used to confer immunosuppression. Engraftment in SD and ATN was comparable at 8 weeks post-transplantation. Evaluation of hNSC differentiation and distribution revealed increased neuronal differentiation of transplanted cells with time. At 16 weeks post-transplantation, neither cell proliferation nor glial lineage markers were detected. Transplanted cell morphology was similar to that of neighboring host neurons, and there was relatively little migration of cells from the peritransplant site. By 16 weeks, GFP-positive processes extended both rostrocaudally and bilaterally into parenchyma, spreading along host white matter tracts, traversing the internal capsule, and extending ∼13 mm caudally from transplantation site reaching into the brainstem. In a Morris water maze test at 8 weeks post-transplantation, animals with transplants had shorter latency to platform than vehicle-treated animals. However, weak injury-induced cognitive deficits in the control group at the delayed time point confounded benefits of durable engraftment and neuronal differentiation. Therefore, these results justify further studies to progress towards clinical translation of hNSC therapy for PTBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1981-1995
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • PBBI
  • TBI
  • behavior deficit
  • cell transplantation
  • hNSC
  • neuronal differentiation


Dive into the research topics of 'Amelioration of Penetrating Ballistic-Like Brain Injury Induced Cognitive Deficits after Neuronal Differentiation of Transplanted Human Neural Stem Cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this