Delayed neointima formation over a neurovascular stent is associated with thrombotic complications that can lead to stroke. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether an intra-arterial injection of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) after stent placement leads to improved neointima and reduced thrombus formation over the device.
Solitaire stents were placed into the aortas of rabbits that were divided into MSC and control groups. The MSC group received an intra-arterial injection of MSCs through the same microcatheter used for stent deployment. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was used to evaluate and compare neointima and thrombus formation in a blinded fashion. Explanted specimens were also imaged with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and evaluated by observers blinded to group allocation using an endothelialization scoring system.
The 3-day MSC group was similar to the 7-day controls in terms of stent strut coverage ratio and maximum neointimal thickness, but these values were significantly higher than the 3-day control group based on a hierarchical mixed-effects linear regression analysis. SEM revealed a significantly higher endothelialization score for the MSC group compared with controls at the same time point. There was no difference in thrombus formation between any of the groups.
The intra-arterial injection of MSCs after endovascular stenting accelerated early neointima formation but had no effect on thrombus formation in this study. Larger studies are required to verify these findings and determine the durability and mechanism of this effect.