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Open Access Stem Cell Grafting Improves Both Motor and Cognitive Impairments in a Genetic Model of Parkinson’s Disease, the Aphakia (ak) Mouse

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Stem cell-based cell replacement of lost midbrain dopamine (mDA) neurons is a potential therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Toward this goal, it is critical to optimize various aspects of cell transplantation and to assess functional recovery through behavioral tests in validated animal model(s) of PD. At present, cell transplantation studies are being done almost exclusively in neurotoxin-based animal models, because few genetic models of PD exhibit robust mDA neuronal loss. Here we used a genetic model of PD, the aphakia mouse, which demonstrates selective degeneration of mDA neurons in the substantia nigra. We systematically investigated the functional effects of transplanting embryonic stem cell-derived cells at different stages of in vitro differentiation: embryoid body (EB), neural progenitor (NP), and neuronal differentiated (ND) stages. We found that transplantation of NP cells yielded the best outcomes for both survival and behavioral improvement, while transplantation of EB and ND cells resulted in high teratoma-like tumor formation and poor survival, respectively. In behavioral paradigms specific to basal ganglia, the NP cells group prominently improved motor behavioral defects 1 and 2 months posttransplantation. Furthermore, we found that NP cell transplantation also improved cognitive impairments of aphakia mice, as examined by the passive avoidance task. Importantly, these graft-induced functional improvements well correlated with survival of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive DA neurons. Taken together, we propose that the aphakia mouse can serve as a novel and useful platform for cell transplantation studies to assess both neurological and cognitive improvements and that NP stage cells represent an optimal stage for transplantation.
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Keywords: 6-Hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA); Aphakia (ak) mouse; Dopaminergic neurons; Embryonic stem cells (ESCs); Parkinson’s disease (PD); Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH); l-3,4-Dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA)

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA, USA

Publication date: 2013-07-15

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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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