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Embryonic Substantia Nigra Grafts Show Directional Outgrowth to Cografted Striatal Grafts and Potential for Pathway Reconstruction in Nonhuman Primate

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Transplantation of embryonic dopamine (DA) neurons has been tested as a therapy for Parkinson's disease. Most studies placed DA neurons into the striatum instead of the substantia nigra (SN). Reconstruction of this DA pathway could serve to establish a more favorable environment for control of DA release by grafted neurons. To test this we used cografts of striatum to stimulate growth of DA axons from embryonic SN that was implanted adjacent to the host SN in African green monkeys. Embryonic striatum was implanted at one of three progressive distances rostral to the SN. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed DA neuron survival and neuritic outgrowth from the SN grafts at 12–36 weeks after grafting. Each animal showed survival of substantial numbers of DA neurons. Most fibers that exited SN grafts coursed rostrally. Striatal grafts showed evidence of target-directed outgrowth and contained dense patterns of DA axons that could be traced from their origin in the SN grafts. A polarity existed for DA neurites that exited the grafts; that is, those seen caudal to the grafts did not appear to be organized into a directional outflow while those on the rostral side were arranged in linear profiles coursing toward the striatal grafts. Some TH fibers that reached the striatal grafts appeared to arise from the residual DA neurons of the SN. These findings suggest that grafted DA neurons can extend neurites toward a desired target over several millimeters through the brain stem and caudal diencephalon of the monkey brain, which favors the prospect of circuit reconstruction from grafted neurons placed into appropriate locations in their neural circuitry. Further study will assess the degree to which this approach can be used to restore motor balance in the nonhuman primate following neural transplantation.
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Keywords: Cografts; Directed outgrowth; Dopaminergic neurons; Parkinsonism; Tract reconstruction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pediatrics, The University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA 2: Department of Neurology, University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA 3: Department of Pathology, University of Vermont School of Medicine, Bington, VT, USA 4: Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA 5: Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosurgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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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.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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