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Open Access Comparing the Functional Consequences of Human Stem Cell Transplantation in the Irradiated Rat Brain

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Radiotherapy is a frontline treatment for the clinical management of CNS tumors. Although effective in eradicating tumor cells, radiotherapy also depletes neural stem and progenitor cells in the hippocampus that are important for neurogenesis and cognitive function. Consequently, the use of radiation to control primary and metastatic brain tumors often leads to debilitating and progressive cognitive decrements in surviving patients, representing a serious medical condition that, to date, has no satisfactory, long-term solutions. As a result, we have explored the use of stem cells as therapeutic agents to improve cognition after radiotherapy. Our past work has demonstrated the capability of cranially transplanted human embryonic (hESCs) and neural (hNSCs) stem cells to functionally restore cognition in rats 1 and 4 months after head-only irradiation. We have now expanded our cognitive analyses with hESCs and quantified both survival and differentiated fates of engrafted cells at 1 and 4 months after irradiation. Our findings indicate the capability of hESC transplantation to ameliorate radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction 1 month following cranial irradiation, using a hippocampal-dependent novel place recognition task. Irradiated animals not engrafted with stem cells experienced prolonged and significant cognitive dysfunction. Stereological estimates indicated that 35% and 17% of the transplanted hESCs survived at 1 and 4 months postgrafting, respectively. One month after irradiation and grafting, phenotypic analyses revealed that 26% and 31% of the hESCs differentiated into neurons and astrocytes, while at the 4-month time, neuronal and astrocytic differentiation was 7% and 46%, respectively. Comparison between present and past data with hESCs and hNSCs demonstrates equivalent cognitive restoration and a preference of hNSCs to commit to neuronal versus astrocytic lineages over extended engraftment times. Our data demonstrate the functional utility of human stem cell replacement strategies for ameliorating the adverse effects of cranial irradiation on cognition.
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Keywords: Cognition; Hippocampus; Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs); Human neural stem cells (hNSCs); Radiation; Spatial recognition memory; Transplantation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA

Publication date: 01 January 2013

More about this publication?
  • 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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