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Open Access Use of Transduced Adipose Tissue Stromal Cells as Biologic Minipumps to Deliver Levodopa for the Treatment of Neuropathic Pain: Possibilities and Limitations

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Subarachnoidal grafting of monoamine-producing cells has been used with success to treat chronic pain in animal models. In the search for a source of autologous transplantable cells, capable of delivering neuroactive substances to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to treat pain, we have tested adipose tissue-derived stromal cells (ADSCs) transduced to produce levodopa. Intrathecally grafted ADSCs survive for long term adhered to spinal cord and nerve root meninges. Cultured ADSCs were retrovirally transduced with tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and/or GTP cyclohydroxylase 1 (GCH1) genes and stably expressed them for at least 6 weeks in culture. Singly transduced cultures did not produce measurable levodopa but doubly transduced or a mixture of singly transduced ADSCs were able to efficiently synthesize and release levodopa. When 0.5‐1 × 106 TH- and GCH1-expressing ADSCs were intrathecally grafted in rats, elevated levels of levodopa and dopamine metabolites were found in CSF at 3 days, although at lower concentrations than expected. Unexpectedly, no levodopa was measurable in CSF at 6 days. In a rat model of neuropathic pain, intrathecal grafting of doubly transduced cells did not produce antiallodynic effects at 2 or 6 days, even when histological analysis revealed the presence of weak TH-immunoreactive subarachnoidal cell clusters. These results suggested that doubly transduced cells could indeed function as biological minipumps to enhance the dopaminergic neurotransmission at the spinal cord level but transgenes were rapidly silenced after intrathecal grafting. Transgene silencing was mimicked in culture by serum deprivation for 3 days. Serum addition at this point recovered transgene expression in just 6 h, as did, to a smaller degree, dbcAMP or histone deacetylase inhibitors. Transgene expression silencing in serum deprivation conditions was prevented by 5′-terminal IRES sequences. The present study does not discard the use of transduced cells as a strategy to treat chronic pain but shows that controlling transgene silencing in implanted cells needs to be achieved first.

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Keywords: Analgesia; Intrathecal grafting; Levodopa; Neuropathic pain; Rats; Transgene silencing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2009

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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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