Wharton’s Jelly Transplantation Improves Neurologic Function in a Rat Model of Traumatic Brain Injury

Tian Cheng, Bo Yang, Dongpeng Li, Shanshan Ma, Yi Tian, Ruina Qu, Wenjin Zhang, Yanting Zhang, Kai Hu, Fangxia Guan, Jian Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can lead to disability, dysfunction, and even death, is a prominent health problem worldwide. Effective therapy for this serious and debilitating condition is needed. Human umbilical cord matrix, known as Wharton’s jelly (WJ), provides a natural, interface scaffold that is enriched in mesenchymal stem cells. In this study, we tested the efficacy of WJ tissue transplantation in a weight-drop model of TBI in rats. WJ tissue was cultured and transplanted into the injury site 24 h after TBI. The modified neurologic severity score, body weight, brain edema, and lesion volume were evaluated at various time points after TBI. Cognitive behavior was assessed by the novel object recognition test and the Morris water maze test. Expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the perilesional brain area was measured at day 14 after TBI. We found that WJ tissue transplantation lessened TBI-induced brain edema (day 3), reduced lesion volume (day 28), improved neurologic function (days 21–28), and promoted memory and cognitive recovery. Additionally, expression of BDNF mRNA and protein was higher in WJ tissue-treated rats than in sham-operated or vehicle-treated rats. These data suggest that WJ tissue transplantation can reduce TBI-induced brain injury and may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-649
Number of pages9
JournalCellular and molecular neurobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 25 2015


  • BDNF
  • Cognition
  • Transplantation
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Wharton’s jelly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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