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Stem Cells ; 39(7): 904-912, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1126519


We have shown previously that transplanted bone marrow mononuclear cells (BM-MNC), which are a cell fraction rich in hematopoietic stem cells, can activate cerebral endothelial cells via gap junction-mediated cell-cell interaction. In the present study, we investigated such cell-cell interaction between mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and cerebral endothelial cells. In contrast to BM-MNC, for MSC we observed suppression of vascular endothelial growth factor uptake into endothelial cells and transfer of glucose from endothelial cells to MSC in vitro. The transfer of such a small molecule from MSC to vascular endothelium was subsequently confirmed in vivo and was followed by suppressed activation of macrophage/microglia in stroke mice. The suppressive effect was absent by blockade of gap junction at MSC. Furthermore, gap junction-mediated cell-cell interaction was observed between circulating white blood cells and MSC. Our findings indicate that gap junction-mediated cell-cell interaction is one of the major pathways for MSC-mediated suppression of inflammation in the brain following stroke and provides a novel strategy to maintain the blood-brain barrier in injured brain. Furthermore, our current results have the potential to provide a novel insight for other ongoing clinical trials that make use of MSC transplantation aiming to suppress excess inflammation, as well as other diseases such as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

Cell Communication , Gap Junctions , Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells/metabolism , Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation , Mesenchymal Stem Cells , Stroke , Allografts , Animals , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/pathology , Gap Junctions/metabolism , Gap Junctions/pathology , Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells/pathology , Humans , Mesenchymal Stem Cells/metabolism , Mesenchymal Stem Cells/pathology , Mice , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Stroke/metabolism , Stroke/pathology , Stroke/therapy
Brain Behav Immun ; 94: 458-462, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1091937


BACKGROUND: The newly emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a worldwide pandemic of human respiratory disease. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) 2 is the key receptor on lung epithelial cells to facilitate initial binding and infection of SARS-CoV-2. The binding to ACE2 is mediated via the spike glycoprotein present on the viral surface. Recent clinical data have demonstrated that patients with previous episodes of brain injuries are a high-risk group for SARS-CoV-2 infection. An explanation for this finding is currently lacking. Sterile tissue injuries including stroke induce the release of several inflammatory mediators that might modulate the expression levels of signaling proteins in distant organs. Whether systemic inflammation following brain injury can specifically modulate ACE2 expression in different vital tissues has not been investigated. METHODS: For the induction of brain stroke, mice were subjected to a surgical procedure for transient interruption of blood flow in the middle cerebral artery for 45 min and sacrificed after 1 and 3 days for analysis of brain, lung, heart, and kidney tissues. Gene expression and protein levels of ACE2, ACE, IL-6 and IL1ß were measured by quantitative PCR and Western blot, respectively. The level of soluble ACE2 in plasma and bronchial alveolar lavage (BAL) was measured using an immunoassay. Immune cell populations in lymphoid organs were analyzed by flow cytometry. Post-stroke pneumonia in mice was examined by bacterial cultures from lung homogenates and whole blood. RESULTS: Strikingly, 1 day after surgery, we observed a substantial increase in the protein levels of ACE2 in the lungs of stroke mice compared to sham-operated mice. However, the protein levels of ACE2 were found unchanged in the heart, kidney, and brain of these animals. In addition, we found increased transcriptional levels of alveolar ACE2 after stroke. The increased expression of ACE2 was significantly associated with the severity of behavioral deficits after stroke. The higher protein levels of alveolar ACE2 persisted until 3 days of stroke. Interestingly, we found reduced levels of soluble ACE2 in plasma but not in BAL in stroke-operated mice compared to sham mice. Furthermore, stroke-induced parenchymal and systemic inflammation was evident with the increased expression of IL-6 and IL-1ß. Reduced numbers of T-lymphocytes were present in the blood and spleen as an indicator of sterile tissue injury-induced immunosuppression. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate specific augmented alveolar ACE2 levels and inflammation in murine lungs after experimental stroke. These pre-clinical findings suggest that patients with brain injuries may have increased binding affinity to SARS-CoV-2 in their lungs which might explain why stroke is a risk factor for higher susceptibility to develop COVID-19.

COVID-19 , Stroke , Animals , Humans , Lung , Mice , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/genetics , SARS-CoV-2
Brain Behav Immun ; 91: 649-667, 2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1064858


For the last two decades, researchers have placed hopes in a new era in which a combination of reperfusion and neuroprotection would revolutionize the treatment of stroke. Nevertheless, despite the thousands of papers available in the literature showing positive results in preclinical stroke models, randomized clinical trials have failed to show efficacy. It seems clear now that the existing data obtained in preclinical research have depicted an incomplete picture of stroke pathophysiology. In order to ameliorate bench-to-bed translation, in this review we first describe the main actors on stroke inflammatory and immune responses based on the available preclinical data, highlighting the fact that the link between leukocyte infiltration, lesion volume and neurological outcome remains unclear. We then describe what is known on neuroinflammation and immune responses in stroke patients, and summarize the results of the clinical trials on immunomodulatory drugs. In order to understand the gap between clinical trials and preclinical results on stroke, we discuss in detail the experimental results that served as the basis for the summarized clinical trials on immunomodulatory drugs, focusing on (i) experimental stroke models, (ii) the timing and selection of outcome measuring, (iii) alternative entry routes for leukocytes into the ischemic region, and (iv) factors affecting stroke outcome such as gender differences, ageing, comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes, obesity, tobacco, alcohol consumption and previous infections like Covid-19. We can do better for stroke treatment, especially when targeting inflammation following stroke. We need to re-think the design of stroke experimental setups, notably by (i) using clinically relevant models of stroke, (ii) including both radiological and neurological outcomes, (iii) performing long-term follow-up studies, (iv) conducting large-scale preclinical stroke trials, and (v) including stroke comorbidities in preclinical research.

Stroke Rehabilitation/methods , Stroke/immunology , Stroke/physiopathology , Animals , Brain Ischemia/drug therapy , Comorbidity , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Immunity/immunology , Immunity/physiology , Inflammation/immunology , Neuroprotection/immunology , Neuroprotection/physiology , Outcome Assessment, Health Care , Reperfusion/methods , Reperfusion/trends