World-wide efficacy of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells in preclinical ischemic stroke models: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Nikunj Satani, Chunyan Cai, Kaavya Giridhar, Daryl McGhiey, Sarah George, Kaushik Parsha, Duyen M Nghiem, Krystal S Valenzuela, Jenny Riecke, Farhaan S Vahidy, Sean I Savitz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Following extensive, positive results in pre-clinical experiments, Bone Marrow Derived-Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BM-MSCs) are now being tested as a novel therapy for ischemic stroke in ongoing clinical trials. However, multiple critical questions relating to their translational application remain to be clarified. We performed a comprehensive, systematic review and meta-analysis of pre-clinical studies to evaluate the efficacy of BM-MSCs on functional outcomes after ischemic stroke, as well as the independent role of translational factors on their effect size. Methods: We systematically reviewed the literature and identified articles using BM-MSCs in animal models of focal ischemic stroke. After abstraction of all relevant data, we performed a meta-analysis to estimate the combined effect size of behavioral endpoints after BM-MSC administration. To describe the effect size across many behavioral outcomes, we divided these outcomes into four categories: (1) Composite scores, (2) Motor Tests, (3) Sensorimotor Tests, and (4) Cognitive Tests. We also performed a meta-regression analysis for measuring the effect of individual characteristics of BM-MSC administration on the effect size. Results: Our results from 141 articles indicate a significant beneficial effect on composite, motor, and sensorimotor outcomes after treatment with BM-MSCs compared to control groups. We found no major differences in treatment effect based on delivery route, dose, fresh vs. frozen preparation, or passage number. There were no consistent findings supporting a difference in treatment effect based on time windows from acute periods (0–6 h) vs. later windows (2–7 days). Furthermore, these positive treatment effects on functional outcome were consistent across different labs in different parts of the world as well as over the last 18 years. There was a negative correlation between publication year and impact factor. Conclusions: Our results show worldwide efficacy of BM-MSCs in improving functional outcomes in pre-clinical animal models of stroke and support testing these cells in clinical trials in various ranges of time windows using different delivery routes. The continued growing number of publications showing functional benefit of BM-MSCs are now adding limited value to an oversaturated literature spanning 18 years. Researchers should focus on identifying definitive mechanisms on how BM-MSCs lead to benefit in stroke models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number405
Pages (from-to)405
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - 2019


  • Co-morbidities
  • Functional outcome
  • Gender differences
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Mesenchymal stromal cells
  • Meta-analysis
  • Timing of administration
  • Treatment effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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