• Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Hypoglossal nerve;
  • Chemokines;
  • Chemokine receptors;
  • Transplantation;
  • Lateral ventricle


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), cultured ex vivo, recently were shown to be able to migrate into sites of brain injuries when transplanted systemically or locally, suggesting that MSCs possess migratory capacity. However, the mechanisms underlying the migration of these cells remain unclear. In this study, we examined the role of some chemokines and their receptors in the trafficking of rat MSCs (rMSCs) in a rat model of left hypoglossal nerve injury. rMSCs transplanted into the lateral ventricles of the rat brain migrated to the avulsed hypoglossal nucleus, where the expression of chemokines, stromal-cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1), and fractalkine was observed to be increased. This increase temporally paralleled the migration of rMSCs into the avulsed nucleus at 1 and 2 weeks after operation. It has been found that rMSCs express CXCR4 and CX3CR1, the respective receptors for SDF-1 and fractalkine, and other chemokine receptors, CCR2 and CCR5. Furthermore, in vitro analysis revealed that recombinant human SDF-1 alpha (rhSDF-1α) and recombinant rat fractalkine (rrfractalkine) induced the migration of rMSCs in a G-protein-dependent manner. Intracerebral injection of rhSDF-1α has also been shown to stimulate the homing of transplanted rMSCs to the site of injection in the brain. These data suggest that the interactions of fractalkine-CX3CR1 and SDF-1–CXCR4 could partially mediate the trafficking of transplanted rMSCs. This study provides an important insight into the understanding of the mechanisms governing the trafficking of transplanted rMSCs and also significantly expands the potential role of MSCs in cell therapy for brain injuries and diseases.