Experimental approaches to study functional recovery following cerebral ischemia
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Valid experimental models and behavioral tests are indispensable for the development of therapies for stroke. The translational failure with neuroprotective drugs has forced us to look for alternative approaches. Restorative therapies aiming to facilitate the recovery process by pharmacotherapy or cell-based therapy have emerged as promising options. Here we describe the most common stroke models used in cell-based therapy studies with particular emphasis on their inherent complications, which may affect behavioral outcome. Loss of body weight, stress, hyperthermia, immunodepression, and infections particularly after severe transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (filament model) are recognized as possible confounders to impair performance in certain behavioral tasks and bias the treatment effects. Inherent limitations of stroke models should be carefully considered when planning experiments to ensure translation of behavioral data to the clinic.