Stem cell combination therapy improves traumatic brain injury, USF study finds

Umbilical cord cell and growth factor treatment tested in animal models could offer hope for millions, including U.S. war veterans with traumatic brain injuries

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USF Health neuroscientist Cesar Borlongan, PhD, the study’s lead author.

Tampa, FL (March 20, 2014) – Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), sustained by close to 2 million Americans annually, including military personnel, are debilitating and devastating for patients and their families. Regardless of severity, those with TBI can suffer a range of motor, behavioral, intellectual and cognitive disabilities over the short or long term. Sadly, clinical treatments for TBI are few and largely ineffective.

In an effort to find an effective therapy, neuroscientists at the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, Department of Neurosurgery in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, have conducted several preclinical studies aimed at finding combination therapies to improve TBI outcomes.

In their study of several different therapies—alone and in combination—applied to laboratory rats modeled with TBI, the USF researchers found that a combination of human umbilical cord blood cells (hUBCs) and granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), a growth factor, was more therapeutic than either administered alone, or each with saline, or saline alone.

The study appeared in a recent issue of PLoS ONE.

“Our results showed that the combined therapy of hUBCs and G-CSF significantly reduced the TBI-induced loss of neuronal cells in the hippocampus,” said study lead author Cesar V. Borlongan, PhD, professor of neurosurgery and director of USF’s Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair. “Therapy with hUBCs and G-CSF alone or in combination produced beneficial results in animals with experimental TBI. G-CSF alone produced only short-lived benefits, while hUBCs alone afforded more robust and stable improvements. However, their combination offered the best motor improvement in the laboratory animals.”

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