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Cell Transplant. 1992;1(1):71-82.

Comparison of fetal rabbit brain xenografts to three different strains of athymic nude rats: electrophysiological and immunohistochemical studies of intraocular grafts.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver.


Interest in the use of neural tissue transplantation for the study of CNS development and maturation and the potential use of this technique for the treatment of certain degenerative CNS disorders has led to our use of transplantation of neural tissue across species lines. Prior to extensive transplantation studies using athymic rats as recipients, we wished to evaluate the currently available strains of athymic rat for their suitability as host animals for xenografts of neural tissue. Fetal cerebellar and cerebral cortex tissue from rabbit brain of gestational age 20-25 days was dissected and transplanted to the anterior chamber of the eye of Harlan Wisconsin, Fisher 344 Jnu, or NCI-Harlan athymic nude rat strains. The brain tissue grafts were allowed to mature for 3 mo during which time the size and vascularity of each graft was monitored through the cornea of anesthetized hosts. In each group all of the transplants survived and grew to varying extents in the anterior chamber of the eye. Following the growth study in vivo extracellular recording of single neuronal activity was performed. Spontaneous neural activity was found in most transplants in all three groups with no difference in the viability or discharge rates of neurons between the groups. Illumination of the ipsilateral eye increased the firing rate of neurons in all three groups, suggesting excitatory cholinergic innervation of the grafted neurons from the host parasympathetic iris ground plexus. Antibodies directed against neurofilament protein, glial fibrillary acidic protein, synapsin, and tyrosine hydroxylase were used to characterize the transplants immunocytochemically and revealed no differences between the grafts in the three groups of recipients. All transplants contained significant numbers of glial and neuronal elements with the distribution resembling that in adult brain tissue. Some of the transplants contained a sparse innervation of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive fibers from the sympathetic plexus of the host iris. Furthermore, synapsin-immunoreactivity suggested that synaptogenesis had taken place within the grafts. Histological examination of the grafts revealed that 67% of the grafts had been infiltrated, to varying extents, by lymphocytes which led to areas of cell lysis and necrosis. All host animals had populations of T-cell receptor positive cells, most of which also expressed the T-cell surface antigens CD4 and CD8. However, no transplants were overtly rejected over the 15 wk period of study.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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