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Striatal Xenotransplantation of Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells Attached to Microcarriers in Hemiparkinsonian Rats Ameliorates Behavioral Deficits Without Provoking a Host Immune Response

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Attachment of donor cells to microcarriers has been reported to make them more tolerable for transplantation into the brain. Human retinal pigment epithelial (hRPE) cells have been previously reported to contain enzymes for the production of dopa. Therefore, we examined the host immune response and behavioral effects of xenotransplantation of hRPE cells attached to microcarriers (hRPE-M) into the striatum of unilateral dopamine-depleted rats. Thirty-four adult rats were lesioned with 6-OHDA injections into the medial forebrain bundle on the right side. After 5 weeks of testing for apomorphine-induced rotations (AIR), animals were randomized for right striatal surgery into the following four groups: hRPE-M (group 1), hRPE alone (group 2), microcarriers alone (group 3), or needle tract alone (group 4). Following surgery, animals were tested for AIR every 4 weeks for a period of 12–18 weeks and thereafter euthanized. There was a significant reduction in AIR scores posttransplantation in all groups of animals in the initial observation points at 4 weeks and 8 weeks. However, there was a gradual return to baseline scores in groups 2, 3, and 4 animals at 12 weeks and at 18 weeks only group 1 animals had statistically significant (p = 0.001, repeated measures ANOVA, means comparison, predetermined contrasts) reduction in AIR scores. Brain tissue from representative animals from each group was cut into 30-μm coronal sections, stained for cresyl violet, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), and markers for host immune activation. Sections through the striatum from group 1 animals revealed microcarriers with attached cells resembling RPE cells. No evidence of transplanted hRPE cells could be detected in sections from group 2 animals while those from groups 3 and 4 animals showed microcarriers and a needle tract alone, respectively. There was no host TH-immunoreactive sprouting response in the striatum in any of the groups and the host immune response was minimal. These results suggest that intrastriatal hRPE-M xenotransplantation into rats is well tolerated without systemic immunosuppression and that such transplants may provide behavioral benefit for parkinsonism.

Keywords: Key words: Parkinson's disease; Immunosuppression; Rodents; Brain; Cell; culture

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: *Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322 2: †Midatlantic Bio-Research, Rockville, MD 28051 3: ‡Titan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Somerville, NJ 08876

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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