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Exp Neurol. 2004 Nov;190(1):122-32.

Region-specific cell grafting into cervical and lumbar spinal cord in rat: a qualitative and quantitative stereological study.

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Anesthesiology Research Laboratory, University of California-San Diego-0818, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


In the present study, we have characterized an atraumatic grafting technique which permits multiple, segmental, and lamina-specific injections into cervical or lumbar spinal cord. Cell injections were performed in spinally mounted rats of different ages and spinal cord size, using a micromanipulator and glass microcapillary connected to a digital microinjector. For grafting, we used human neuroteratoma (hNT) cells, BrdU-labeled rat spinal precursors or primary embryonic spinal cord neurons isolated from E14 spinal cord of the eGFP+ rat. Systematic quantification of grafted cells was performed using stereological principles of systematic random sampling and semi-automated optical Disector software. Volume reconstruction was performed using serial sections from grafted areas and custom-developed software (Ellipse) which permits "two reference points" semi-automated alignment of images, as well as volume reconstruction and calculation. By coupling these techniques, it is possible to achieve a relatively precise and atraumatic cell delivery into multiple spinal cord segments and specific spinal laminae. Consistency of the multiple grafts position in the targeted laminar areas was verified by a systematic volume reconstruction. Good survival of implanted cells for the three different cell lines used indicate that this grafting technique coupled with a systematic analysis of the individual grafting sites can represent a valuable implantation-analytical system.

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