Research with experimental stroke models has identified a wide range of therapeutic proteins that can prevent the brain damage caused by this form of acute neurological injury. Despite this, we do not yet have safe and effective ways to deliver therapeutic proteins to the injured brain, and this remains a major obstacle for clinical translation. Current targeted strategies typically involve invasive neurosurgery, whereas systemic approaches produce the undesirable outcome of non-specific protein delivery to the entire brain, rather than solely to the injury site. As a potential way to address this, we developed a protein delivery system modeled after the endogenous immune cell response to brain injury. Using ex-vivo-engineered dendritic cells (DCs), we find that these cells can transiently home to brain injury in a rat model of stroke with both temporal and spatial selectivity. We present a standardized method to derive injury-responsive DCs from bone marrow and show that injury targeting is dependent on culture conditions that maintain an immature DC phenotype. Further, we find evidence that when loaded with therapeutic cargo, cultured DCs can suppress initial neuron death caused by an ischemic injury. These results demonstrate a non-invasive method to target ischemic brain injury and may ultimately provide a way to selectively deliver therapeutic compounds to the injured brain.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0061789
View details for Web of Science ID 000317893400111
View details for PubMedID 23613937
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3627911