Multiple doses of umbilical cord blood cells improve long-term brain injury in the neonatal rat

Tayla R. Penny, Yen Pham, Amy E. Sutherland, Jamie G. Mihelakis, Joohyung Lee, Graham Jenkin, Michael C. Fahey, Suzanne L. Miller, Courtney A. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Hypoxic ischemic (HI) insults during pregnancy and birth can result in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as cerebral palsy. We have previously shown that a single dose of umbilical cord blood (UCB) cells is effective at reducing short-term neuroinflammation and improves short and long-term behavioural outcomes in rat pups. A single dose of UCB was not able to modulate long-term neuroinflammation or brain tissue loss. In this study we examined whether multiple doses of UCB can modulate neuroinflammation, decrease cerebral tissue damage and improve behavioural outcomes when followed up long-term. Methods: HI injury was induced in postnatal day 10 (PND10) rat pups using the Rice-Vannucci method of carotid artery ligation. Pups received either 1 dose (PND11), or 3 doses (PND11, 13, 20) of UCB cells. Rats were followed with behavioural testing, to assess both motor and cognitive outcomes. On PND50, brains were collected for analysis. Results: HI brain injury in rat pups caused significant behavioural deficits. These deficits were significantly improved by multiple doses of UCB. HI injury resulted in a significant decrease in brain weight and left hemisphere tissue, which was improved by multiple doses of UCB. HI resulted in increased cerebral apoptosis, loss of neurons and upregulation of activated microglia. Multiple doses of UCB modulated these neuropathologies. A single dose of UCB at PND11 did not improve behavioural or neuropathological outcomes. Conclusions: Treatment with repeated doses of UCB is more effective than a single dose for reducing tissue damage, improving brain pathology and restoring behavioural deficits following perinatal brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147001
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Behaviour
  • Hypoxia ischemia
  • Long-term
  • Stem cells
  • Umbilical cord blood

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