Huntington’s disease (HD) produces severe neurodegeneration in the striatum leading to disabling motor impairments, including the loss of control of skilled reaching movements. Fetal GABAergic transplants can physically replace the lost striatal cells but with only partial success
in functional recovery. Here, we aimed to determine the extent and quality of the repair produced by fetal cell transplantation through an in-depth analysis of reaching behavior in the quinolinic acid-lesioned rat model of HD. Control, quinolinic acid-lesioned plus sham graft, and quinolinic
acid-lesioned plus graft groups of rats were assessed in skilled reaching performance prior to and following lesion surgery and 3 months following injection of 400,000 fetal whole ganglionic eminence-derived cells into the striatum. This was compared to their performance in two more rudimentary
tests of motor function (the adjusting step and vibrissae-evoked hand-placing tests). Grafted rats demonstrated a significant improvement in reaching success rate (graft +59%, shamTX +3%). Importantly, the quality of reaching behavior, including all components of the movement, was fully restored
with no identifiable differences in the normal behavior shown by control rats. Postmortem immunohistochemical examination verified the survival of large intrastriatal grafts, and Fluoro-Gold tracing indicated appropriate outgrowth to the globus pallidus. Our study illustrates for the first
time the detailed analysis of qualitative improvement of motor function following brain repair in a rat model of HD. The results demonstrate significant improvements not only in gross movements but also in the skilled motor patterns lost during HD. Fetal GABAergic cell transplantation showed
a demonstrable ability to restore motor function to near normal levels, such that there were few differences from intact control animals, an effect not observed in standard tests of motor function.
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Adjusting step test;
Vibrissae-evoked hand-placing test;
Whole ganglionic eminence (wGE)
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2013-10-04
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