Purpose: This study was performed to evaluate the long-term effects and safety of intratracheal (IT) transplantation of human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hUCB-MSCs) in neonatal hyperoxic lung injury at postnatal day (P)70 in a rat model.
Materials and methods: Newborn Sprague Dawley rat pups were subjected to 14 days of hyperoxia (90% oxygen) within 10 hours after birth and allowed to recover at room air until sacrificed at P70. In the transplantation groups, hUCB-MSCs (5×10⁵) were administered intratracheally at P5. At P70, various organs including the heart, lung, liver, and spleen were histologically examined, and the harvested lungs were assessed for morphometric analyses of alveolarization. ED-1, von Willebrand factor, and human-specific nuclear mitotic apparatus protein (NuMA) staining in the lungs and the hematologic profile of blood were evaluated.
Results: Impaired alveolar and vascular growth, which evidenced by an increased mean linear intercept and decreased amount of von Willebrand factor, respectively, and the hyperoxia-induced inflammatory responses, as evidenced by inflammatory foci and ED-1 positive alveolar macrophages, were attenuated in the P70 rat lungs by IT transplantation of hUCB-MSCs. Although rare, donor cells with human specific NuMA staining were persistently present in the P70 rat lungs. There were no gross or microscopic abnormal findings in the heart, liver, or spleen, related to the MSCs transplantation.
Conclusion: The protective and beneficial effects of IT transplantation of hUCB-MSCs in neonatal hyperoxic lung injuries were sustained for a prolonged recovery period without any long-term adverse effects up to P70.