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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2001 May;75(3):274-92.

Functional recovery of skilled forelimb use in rats obliged to use the impaired limb after grafting of the frontal cortex lesion with homotopic fetal cortex.

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Departamento de Fisiología y Farmacología, Universidad de Salamanca, Madrid, Spain.


The long-term effect of transplanting embryonic frontal cortex into a unilateral frontal cortex lesion has been studied in adult rats. Before surgery, activity in an open field, muscular strength of both forelimbs, and performance in a paw-reaching-for-food task were scored in 26 rats. In 21 animals a unilateral cortex lesion was then made in the forelimb motor area of the hemisphere contralateral to the preferred paw in the paw-reaching-for-food task, while the other 5 animals were sham-operated. On retesting, the lesion animals changed the preferred paw. A solid homotopic transplant of embryonic tissue (embryonic day 17) was then placed in the lesion cavity in 11 of the lesion rats. Three months later neither lesion alone nor lesion plus transplantation affected open field behavior and muscular strength, but the lesion permanently affected performance in the paw-reaching-for-food task, as shown by a change of preferred paw and a functional deficit in the paw contralateral to the lesion. Transplantation ameliorated the deficits caused by the lesion, but this was only evident when animals were forced to reach with the paw contralateral to the lesion plus transplant. The behavioral results were independent of the size of the lesion and graft. Connections between graft and host tissue were studied by means of the fluorescent tracer 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3'3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI). A dense array of labeled fibers was found in the host cortex adjacent to the transplant. The results suggest that functional recovery depends on grafting but is only evident when the animal is obliged to use the affected limb.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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