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Exp Neurol. 2004 Nov;190(1):32-41.

Transplantation of pig stem cells into rat brain: proliferation during the first 8 weeks.

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Department of Anatomy and Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5602, USA.


Previous work indicated that pig umbilical cord matrix (pUCM) cells are a type of primitive stem cell and that these cells could be recovered after central or peripheral injection into rats that did not receive immune suppression therapy. To determine the safety and proliferation potential of pUCM cells after brain transplantation, approximately 150 pUCM cells were transplanted into the brains of rats that previously received a striatal injection of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). The pUCM cells were previously engineered to express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP); in this way, the graft cells were identified. The rats did not receive immune suppression therapy. There were no postsurgical complications and the animals thrived following transplantation. At 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks after transplantation, two rats were sacrificed and the morphology, size and number of graft cells, and the percentage of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive graft cells were determined. The size distribution of the grafted pUCM cells was unimodal and normal, and the average size increased significantly over the 2- to 8-week survival period. The number of pUCM cells increased from approximately 5400 cells at the 2-week survival period post-transplantation to approximately 20,000 cells at the 8-week survival period. There was an increase in the percentage of TH-positive pUCM cells from approximately 1% at the 2-week survival period to approximately 6% at the 8-week survival period. There was no evidence of a significant host immune response at any time; for example, no accumulation of CD-4, CD-8, CD-11b, CD-161 cells in the transplantation site. These results suggest that pUCM cells engraft and proliferate without requiring immune suppression. These findings also suggest that a subset of pUCM cells can differentiate into TH-positive cells within 8 weeks after transplantation into the 6-OHDA lesioned rat brain.

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