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Neuroscience. 2000;101(4):945-55.

Conditionally immortal neuroepithelial stem cell grafts reverse age-associated memory impairments in rats.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, SE5 8AF, London, UK.


In order to investigate the effects of stem cell grafts on water maze deficits in aged (22-month-old) rats, three groups of aged rats, assigned by pre-training latency scores to unimpaired, impaired control and impaired grafted groups, were compared with young (five-month-old) controls, six to eight weeks after implantation of cells from the conditionally immortal Maudsley hippocampal stem cell line, clone 36 (MHP36 stem cell line), in the cortex, striatum and hippocampus. Grafted rats were substantially superior to their matched impaired aged controls, and learned to find the platform as rapidly as unimpaired aged rats, although young controls were more efficient than all aged groups in several measures of spatial search during training. On the probe trial, however, aged rats with grafts showed significantly better recall of the precise position of the platform than any other group, including young controls, possibly indicating some perseveration. A further comparison found that groups of unimpaired and moderately impaired aged rats showed far less improvement from water maze pre-training to acquisition phases than young controls, indicative of progressive deficits over time. Histological investigation showed that beta-galactosidase-positive MHP36 cells migrated widely from the implantation sites to infiltrate the striatal matrix, all hippocampal fields and areas of the cortex. Grafted cells showed both astrocytic and neuronal morphologies, with cells of pyramidal and granular appearance in appropriate hippocampal strata.Taken together, these results indicate that neuroepithelial stem cell grafts extensively colonize the aged rat brain and substantially reverse progressive cognitive decline associated with ageing.

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