Mesenchymal stem cells protect from sub-chronic phencyclidine insult in vivo and counteract changes in astrocyte gene expression in vitro

Ran Barzilay*, Javier Ganz, Ofer Sadan, Tali Ben-Zur, Ziv Bren, Noa Hinden, Michal Taler, Nirit Lev, Irit Gil-Ad, Abraham Weizman, Daniel Offen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are an attractive cell source for regenerative medicine strategies in brain diseases. Experimental studies have shown that repeated administration of phencyclidine (PCP) leads to schizophrenia-like behavioral changes in mice. The aim of the present study was to explore the effectiveness of MSC transplantation into the hippocampus in attenuating PCP-induced social behavior deficits. PCP was administered subcutaneously to C57bl mice (10. mg/kg daily) for 2 weeks. On the first day of PCP administration, adult human MSCs were transplanted into the hippocampus. A week after the last PCP dose, the mice underwent social preference testing. MSC transplantation was associated with a significant reduction in the adverse social behavior induced by PCP. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the stem cells survived in the mouse brain, and hippocampal Western blot analysis revealed a statistical trend towards a decrease in cleaved caspase 3 protein levels in the stem cell treated group. Upon in vitro co-culture of astrocytes and MSCs, the MSCs, in the presence of PCP, positively regulated astrocyte expression of genes involved in glutamate metabolism and antioxidant defenses. These findings suggest that MSC transplantation into the hippocampus may serve as a novel neuroprotective tool for the treatment of the PCP-induced schizophrenia-like social endophenotype. The mechanism underlying the beneficial behavioral effect may involve modulation of host astrocyte functioning, including glutamate processing and antioxidant capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1123
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Animal model
  • Phencyclidine
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social behavior
  • Stem cells


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