Bone Marrow-Derived Endothelial Progenitor Cells Protect Against Scopolamine-Induced Alzheimer-Like Pathological Aberrations

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© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Vascular endothelial dysfunction plays a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Patients with AD have displayed decreased circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) which repair and maintain the endothelial function. Transplantation of EPCs has emerged as a promising approach for the management of cerebrovascular diseases including ischemic stroke, however, its impact on AD has been poorly described. Thus, the current study aimed at investigating the effects of bone marrow-derived (BM) EPCs transplantation in repeated scopolamine-induced cognitive impairment, an experimental model that replicates biomarkers of AD. Intravenously transplanted BM-EPCs migrated into the brain of rats and improved the learning and memory deficits. Meanwhile, they mitigated the deposition of amyloid plaques and associated histopathological alterations. At the molecular levels, BM-EPCs blunted the increase of hippocampal amyloid beta protein (Aβ), amyloid precursor protein (APP) and reinstated the Aβ-degrading neprilysin together with downregulation of p-tau and its upstream glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). They also corrected the perturbations of neurotransmitter levels including restoration of acetylcholine and associated esterase along with dopamine, GABA, and the neuroexitatory glutamate. Furthermore, BM-EPCs induced behavioral recovery via boosting of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its upstream cAMP response element binding (CREB), suppression of the proinflammatory tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and upregulation of interleukin-10 (IL-10). BM-EPCs also augmented Nrf2 and seladin-1. Generally, these actions were analogous to those exerted by adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AT-MSCs) and the reference anti-Alzheimer donepezil. For the first time, these findings highlight the beneficial actions of BM-EPCs against the memory deficits and AD-like pathological dysfunction.

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