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  The effects of Interleukin-1 primed mesenchymal stem cells on hypoxic-ischemic brain damage

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Hypoxic-ischemic brain damage is one of the main causes of death and neurological disability after stroke worldwide. Our previous studies have demonstrated that interleukin-1 (IL-1) primed mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have a stronger anti-inflammatory and neurotrophic phenotype and can be used as a new cellular stroke therapy. In this project, we will study the effects of IL-1 primed MSCs on oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD) injury in neurons and astrocytes, with the ultimate aim to explore the potential clinical application of IL-1 primed MSCs on neuroprotection.

The project will have three main objectives:

1) To test the effects of IL-1 primed MSCs on neuroprotection after experimental cerebral ischemia

Adults mice exposed to hypoxia/ischemia will be injected with IL-1-primed MSCs. Field excitatory postsynaptic potentials in the hippocampal CA1 region of brain slices will be recorded to examine the effects of primed MSC transplantation on hippocampal synaptic plasticity. The effect of MSCs on hypoxia/ischemia brain injury, inflammation and repair will be performed at various times post MSCs injections by routine histology, immunohistochemistry and ELISAs.

2) To test the effects of IL-1 primed MSCs on OGD-induced neuronal injury.

Primary culture of hippocampal neurons will be subjected to OGD-induced injury and subsequently treated with primed MSCs. Western blot will be used to detect apoptotic markers and ELISA will be used to detect the expression of neuronal-derived cytokines.

3) To test the effects of IL-1 primed MSCs on OGD-induced astrocytic injury.

Primary astrocytes will used in similar experiments to those described for neurones above. Apoptosis and astrogliosis will be assessed by immunocytochemistry and Western blot using established markers.

Training/techniques to be provided:

The student will be provided with all the techniques that are required to achieve the aims of the projects, including in vivo models of hypoxia / ischemia, histology, preclinical brain imaging, analysis of key markers of tissue injury / repair by immunohistochemistry / ELISA. Furthermore, full training will be provided to successfully conduct all in vitro experiments, including cell cultures, organotypic cultures, oxygen glucose deprivation and a large array of analytical techniques.


Applicants must have obtained or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant discipline. 

Before you Apply

Applicants must make direct contact with preferred supervisors before applying. It is your responsibility to make arrangements to meet with potential supervisors, prior to submitting a formal online application. 

How to Apply

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the appropriate subject title.

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit

Your application form must be accompanied by a number of supporting documents by the advertised deadlines. Without all the required documents submitted at the time of application, your application will not be processed and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have any queries regarding making an application please contact our admissions team

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


Wong R, Lénárt N, Hill L, Toms L, Coutts G, Martinecz B, Császár E, Nyiri G, Papaemmanouil A, Waisman A, Müller W, Schwaninger M, Rothwell N, Francis S, Pinteaux E*, Denés A*, Allan SM* (2018) Interleukin-1 mediates ischaemic brain injury via distinct actions on endothelial cells and cholinergic neurons. Brain Behav Immun. 2018 Nov 16. pii: S0889-1591(18)30403-3. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2018.11.012. * joint senior authors

Rajkovic I, Wong R, Lemarchand E, Rivers-Auty J, Rajkovic O, Garlanda C, Allan SM, Pinteaux E. (2018) Pentraxin 3 promotes long-term cerebral blood flow recovery, angiogenesis and neuronal survival after stroke. J Mol Med. 96, 1319-1332. doi: 10.1007/s00109-018-1698-6

Redondo-Castro E, Cunningham C, Miller J, Cain SA, Allan SM, Pinteaux E (2018) Generation of human mesenchymal stem cell 3D spheroids using low-binding plates. Bioprotoc. 20;8(16). pii: e2968. doi: 10.21769/BioProtoc.2968.

Redondo-Castro E, Cunningham C, Miller J, Brown H, Allan SM, Pinteaux E. (2018) Changes in the secretome of tri-dimensional spheroid-cultured human mesenchymal stem cells in vitro by interleukin-1 priming. Stem Cell Res Ther. 9,11.

Redondo-Castro E, Cunningham C, Miller J, Martuscelli L, Aoulad-Ali S, Rothwell NJ,Kielty CM, Allan SM, Pinteaux E (2017) Interleukin-1 primes human mesenchymal stem cells towards an anti-inflammatory and pro-trophic phenotype in vitro. Stem Cell Res Ther. 8, 79.

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