Intracerebral xenografts of dopamine neurons: the role of immunosuppression and the blood-brain barrier

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Fetal mesencephalic mouse tissue, rich in dopamine neurons, was xenografted as a dissociated cell suspension into the striatum of rats with unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine induced lesions of the mesostriatal pathway. The rats were either assigned to a 10-day, 21-day or 42-day Cyclosporin A (CyA) immunosuppression scheme, or given no immunosuppression. The functional effects of the grafts were followed over 6 months by monitoring changes in the recipient rats' amphetamine-induced turning behaviour. Without immunosuppression no grafts were functional at the end of the experiment. In the 10-, 21- and 42-day CyA treatment groups there was a significant reduction of rotational asymmetry at some timepoint following grafting in 26 of the 33 rats. However, by 6 months only 8 grafts remained functional suggesting that in several rats an immunological rejection took place following the termination of immunosuppression. This was supported by catecholamine histofluorescence analysis which revealed evidence of surviving grafts only in the few rats which had shown sustained functional graft effects at 6 months after grafting. In animals in which the grafts had undergone rejection, there was scar-like tissue in the striatum which appeared more extensive in rats that had lost their grafts after several weeks compared to rats in which the grafts were rejected at an early time-point. In a subgroup of the grafted animals the humoral antibody response against major transplantation antigens present on the grafted cells was investigated. All the studied rats were found to be immunized against the grafted mouse tissue following the intrastriatal implantation. This occurred irrespective of prior immunosuppressive treatment. In a parallel group of rats, the leakage of the blood-brain barrier was studied following intrastriatal implantation of a syngeneic fetal neural cell suspension. Evans Blue was infused into rats 3-12 days following transplantation surgery. At the early time-points there was a marked barrier leakage at the implantation site. This subsided with time such that there was minor leakage after 7-8 days and no leakage after 12 days. In summary, the results indicate the CyA is effective in promoting survival of intracerebral xenografts of fetal neural tissue, but that cessation of immunosuppressive treatment in most cases results in rejection of the grafted tissue. Temporary CyA treatment, even exceeding the time it takes for the blood-brain barrier to reform after transplantation surgery, is thus not sufficient to reliably support long term survival of xenografted dopamine neurons.


External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Neurology


  • Amphetamines, Animals, Blood-Brain Barrier, Cell Separation, Corpus Striatum, Cyclosporins, Dopamine, Female, Graft Survival, Hydroxydopamines, Immunosuppression, Mesencephalon, Oxidopamine, Rats, Rats, Inbred Strains, Stereotyped Behavior, Time Factors, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-207
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Publication categoryResearch