Mesenchymal stem cell therapy in necrotizing enterocolitis: a rat study

Pediatr Res. 2011 Nov;70(5):489-94. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e31822d7ef2.


We evaluated the potential therapeutic use of exogenous human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs) in an experimental rat model of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Thirty-six newborn Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups: NEC, NEC + hBM-MSC, and a control (control and control + hBM-MSC). NEC was induced by enteral formula feeding, exposure to hypoxia-hyperoxia, and cold stress. After NEC was induced, iron-labeled hBM-MSCs were administered by intraperitoneal injection. All pups were killed on the fourth day following injection, and the terminal ileum was excised for a histopathological and immunohistochemical evaluation. The pups in the NEC + hBM-MSC group showed significant weight gains and improvements in their clinical sickness scores (p < 0.01). Bowel damage severity observed in the histopathological evaluation was significantly lower in the NEC + hBM-MSC group than that in the NEC group (p = 0.012). The number of MSCs homing to the bowel was significantly higher in the NEC + hBM-MSC group than that in the control + hBM-MSC group. In conclusion, this is the first study that has evaluated the effectiveness of hBM-MSCs in a neonatal rat NEC model. MSCs reduced histopathological damage significantly.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipogenesis / physiology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / pathology
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / therapy*
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Histological Techniques
  • Humans
  • Ileum / pathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Osteogenesis / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Ferric Compounds
  • ferric oxide