Treating childhood traumatic brain injury with autologous stem cell therapy

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2018 May;18(5):515-524. doi: 10.1080/14712598.2018.1439473. Epub 2018 Feb 15.


Introduction: Neonatal traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant cause of developmental disorders. Autologous stem cell therapy may enhance neonatal brain plasticity towards repair of the injured neonatal brain.

Areas covered: The endogenous neonatal anti-inflammatory response can be enhanced through the delivery of anti-inflammatory agents. Stem cell therapy stands as a robust approach for sequestering the inflammation-induced cell death in the injured brain. Here, we discuss the use of umbilical cord blood cells and bone marrow stromal cells for acute and chronic treatment of experimental neonatal TBI. Autologous stem cell transplantation may dampen neuroinflammation. Clinical translation of this stem cell therapy will require identifying the therapeutic window post-injury and harvesting ample supply of transplantable autologous stem cells. Stem cell banking of cryopreserved cells may allow readily available transplantable cells and circumvent the unpredictable nature of neonatal TBI. Harnessing the anti-inflammatory properties of stem cells is key in combating the progressive neurodegeneration after the initial injury.

Expert opinion: Combination treatments, such as with hypothermia, may enhance the therapeutic effects of stem cells. Stem cell therapy has immense potential as a stand-alone or adjunctive therapy for treating neuroinflammation associated with neonatal TBI acutely and for preventing further progression of the injury.

Keywords: Traumatic brain injury; autologous; bone marrow stromal cells; hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy; neonatal; neuroinflammation; neuroplasticity; stem cells; umbilical cord blood cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / therapy*
  • Child
  • Fetal Blood / cytology
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Transplantation, Autologous