Caspase inhibition reduces apoptosis and increases survival of nigral transplants

Gabriele Schierle, Oskar Hansson, M Leist, P Nicotera, Håkan Widner, Patrik Brundin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transplantation of embryonic nigral tissue ameliorates functional deficiencies in Parkinson disease. The main practical constraints of neural grafting are the shortage of human donor tissue and the poor survival of dopaminergic neurons grafted into patients, which is estimated at 5-10% (refs. 3,4). The required amount of human tissue could be considerably reduced if the neuronal survival was augmented. Studies in rats indicate that most implanted embryonic neurons die within 1 week of transplantation, and that most of this cell death is apoptotic. Modified peptides, such as acetyl-tyrosinyl-valyl-alanyl-aspartyl-chloro-methylketone (Ac-YVAD-cmk), that specifically inhibit proteases of the caspase family effectively block apoptosis in a plethora of experimental paradigms, such as growth factor withdrawal, excitotoxicity, axotomy, cerebral ischemia and brain trauma. Here we examined the effects of caspase inhibition by Ac-YVAD-cmk on cell death immediately after donor tissue preparation and on long-term graft survival. Treatment of the embryonic nigral cell suspension with Ac-YVAD-cmk mitigated DNA fragmentation and reduced apoptosis in transplants. It also increased survival of dopaminergic neurons grafted to hemiparkinsonian rats, and thereby substantially improved functional recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-100
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Neurology, Lund (013027000), Psychiatry/Primary Care/Public Health (013240500), Department of Experimental Medical Science (013210000)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology
  • Neurosciences
  • Clinical Medicine


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