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Brain Res Bull. 1990 Aug;25(2):325-34.

Behavioral and electrophysiological correlates of human mesencephalic dopaminergic xenograft function in the rat striatum.

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Department of Pharmacology and Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver 80262.


While human fetal xenografts placed into immunocompromised animal hosts have been shown to survive and grow, their ability to function and influence the host tissue has not been fully examined. Therefore, we implanted grafts of human fetal mesencephalic tissue intracranially into rats with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of their nigrostriatal dopaminergic innervation and tested the rats behaviorally for reductions in apomorphine-induced rotations. The purpose of this study was to test the ability of these grafts to provide a functional reinnervation by comparing the behavioral changes with the morphology and presence of electrophysiologically active dopaminergic neurons within the graft and with firing rates of host striatal neurons. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats that had been unilaterally lesioned and that showed a stable two peak pattern of apomorphine-induced rotations received grafts of human fetal mesencephalic tissue placed directly into the lesioned striatum. These rats were then further tested each month for five months for reductions in their turning behavior. At 5 to 6 months postgrafting, electrophysiological recordings were made of cells within the graft and within the host striatum. The rats were then examined immunohistochemically to evaluate graft survival and extent of reinnervation of the host tissue. The rats receiving mesencephalic dopaminergic grafts demonstrated a 79% reduction in their apomorphine-induced rotations. Electrophysiological recordings revealed spontaneously active dopaminergic neurons within the graft as well as host striatal cell firing rates consistent with those of dopamine-innervated cells. Furthermore, immunohistochemical studies confirmed graft survival and revealed marked fiber outgrowth from the graft into and throughout the striatum. Taken together these findings provide evidence that grafts of human fetal mesencephalic tissue are able to produce behavioral improvements in lesioned animals which are associated with the presence of dopaminergic neurons within the graft and are consistent with normal host striatal cell activity levels.

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