According to a study released in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, this is a possible new way of treatment for ischemitc stroke. Ischemitc stroke occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is blocked by fatty plaque within the blood vessel. According to World Stroke Organization, it accounts for about 87% of all strokes and each year 5.5 million people throughout the world fall victim to this type of stroke.

Dr. Annamaria Cimini, Ph.D., of the University of L’Aquila, and Liborio Stuppia, M.D., of D’Annunzio University, Italy let the study. The group of physicians were able to reveal how the secretome of amniotic fluid stem cells can restore neuronal plasticity (the brain’s capacity to change and adapt), improve cognition, and replace neurons damaged or lost due to an ischemic stroke.

In their current study, the Cimini-Stuppia team wanted to determine which  might be activated by hAFSC-derived secretome during a stroke. (Signal transduction is how signals are transferred through a cell via proteins—a process necessary for healing.) They also wanted to analyze miRNA expression in the conditioned medium. miRNAs found in exosomes are key regulators of the immune response that affect maturation, proliferation, differentiation and activation of immune cells, as well as antibody secretion and release of inflammatory mediators.

The team began by first devising an in vitro stroke model. To do this, they deprived hAFSCs of oxygen and glucose for a three hour period after testing several different time windows—at three hours, the cells showed a reduction in viability of about 50 percent. Then, 24 hours later, they treated the oxygen/glucose depleted cells with several different percentages of hAFSC-conditioned medium.

Head researcher Dr. Liborio Stuppia stated:

“When we examined the results, we found that the hAFSC-derived secretome had activated pro-survival pathways, as well as pathways that halted apoptosis (programmed cell death). Furthermore, microRNA analysis in the exosomal component revealed an abundance of miRNAs involved in protecting neurons and controlling neuronal cell death,” Dr. Stuppia reported.

“In light of the data obtained, we believe that the use of conditioned medium and, in particular, exosomes may represent a suitable treatment for I/R injury.

These outcomes suggest a potential approach that could change the outcome for millions of patients who suffer a stroke.”