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Intranasal delivery of transforming growth factor-beta1 in mice after stroke reduces infarct volume and increases neurogenesis in the subventricular zone

Minmin Ma1, Yuping Ma1, Xueming Yi1, Ruibing Guo1, Wusheng Zhu1, Xinying Fan1, Gelin Xu1, William H Frey23 and Xinfeng Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Jinling Hospital, Nanjing University School of Medicine, 305# East Zhongshan Road, Nanjing 21002, Jiangsu Province, PR China

2 Department of Pharmaceutics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

3 Alzheimer's Research Center, Regions Hospital, 640 Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55101, USA

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BMC Neuroscience 2008, 9:117  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-9-117

Published: 10 December 2008



The effect of neurotrophic factors in enhancing stroke-induced neurogenesis in the adult subventricular zone (SVZ) is limited by their poor blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability.

Intranasal administration is a noninvasive and valid method for delivery of neuropeptides into the brain, to bypass the BBB. We investigated the effect of treatment with intranasal transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) on neurogenesis in the adult mouse SVZ following focal ischemia. The modified Neurological Severity Scores (NSS) test was used to evaluate neurological function, and infarct volumes were determined from hematoxylin-stained sections. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) labeling was performed at 7 days after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). Immunohistochemistry was used to detect bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) and neuron- or glia-specific markers for identifying neurogenesis in the SVZ at 7, 14, 21, 28 days after MCAO.


Intranasal treatment of TGF-β1 shows significant improvement in neurological function and reduction of infarct volume compared with control animals. TGF-β1 treated mice had significantly less TUNEL-positive cells in the ipsilateral striatum than that in control groups. The number of BrdU-incorporated cells in the SVZ and striatum was significantly increased in the TGF-β1 treated group compared with control animals at each time point. In addition, numbers of BrdU- labeled cells coexpressed with the migrating neuroblast marker doublecortin (DCX) and the mature neuronal marker neuronal nuclei (NeuN) were significantly increased after intranasal delivery of TGF-β1, while only a few BrdU labeled cells co-stained with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP).


Intranasal administration of TGF-β1 reduces infarct volume, improves functional recovery and enhances neurogenesis in mice after stroke. Intranasal TGF-β1 may have therapeutic potential for cerebrovascular disorders.