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Exp Neurol. 2008 Apr;210(2):608-23. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2007.12.016. Epub 2007 Dec 31.

Zuckerkandl's organ improves long-term survival and function of neural stem cell derived dopaminergic neurons in Parkinsonian rats.

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  • 1Developmental Toxicology Division, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Post Box-80, M.G. Marg Lucknow-226001, India.


Transplantation of neural stem cells (NSC) derived dopamine (DA) neurons has emerged as an alternative approach to fetal neural cell transplantation in Parkinson's disease (PD). However, similar to fetal neural cell, survival of these neurons following transplantation is also limited due to limited striatal reinnervation (graft with dense neuronal core), limited host-graft interaction, poor axonal outgrowth, lack of continuous neurotrophic factors supply and principally an absence of cell adhesion molecules mediated appropriate developmental cues. In the present study, an attempt has been made to increase survival and function of NSC derived DA neurons, by co-grafting with Zuckerkandl's organ (a paraneural organ that expresses neurotrophic factors as well as cell adhesion molecules); to provide continuous NTF support and developmental cues to transplanted DA neurons in the rat model of PD. 24 weeks post transplantation, a significant number of surviving functional NSC derived DA neurons were observed in the co-transplanted group as evident by an increase in the number of tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive (TH-IR) neurons, TH-IR fiber density, TH-mRNA expression and TH-protein level at the transplantation site (striatum). Significant behavioral recovery (amphetamine induced stereotypy and locomotor activity) and neurochemical recovery (DA-D2 receptor binding and DA and DOPAC levels at the transplant site) were also observed in the NSC+ZKO co-transplanted group as compared to the NSC or ZKO alone transplanted group. In vivo results were further substantiated by in vitro studies, which suggest that ZKO increases the NSC derived DA neuronal survival, differentiation, DA release and neurite outgrowth as well as protects against 6-OHDA toxicity in co-culture condition. The present study suggests that long-term and continuous NTF support provided by ZKO to the transplanted NSC derived DA neurons, helped in their better survival, axonal arborization and integration with host cells, leading to long-term functional restoration in the rat model of PD.

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