Characterisation of cell damage and death in embryonic mesencephalic tissue: a study on ultrastructure, vital stains and protease activity.

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Dissociated embryonic ventral mesencephalic tissue is a source of dopaminergic neurones in both cell culture and neural transplantation studies. Around 90% of grafted dopaminergic neurones die within 1 week after transplantation. Little is known about when the cell death is triggered and what forms of cell death predominate. Using electron microscopy, we characterised ultrastructural changes in dissected embryonic day 14 rat mesencephalic tissue before and after tissue dissociation. In addition, cell viability was evaluated using Trypan Blue and Hoechst/Ethidium Homodimer. Several cells exhibited leaky outer membranes (permitting entry of vital stains) and ultrastructural degeneration already immediately after the mesencephalon was dissected, and before it was mechanically disrupted. After 2 h at room temperature, 90% of the remaining cells had intact outer membranes. However, when estimating cells lost acutely in the tissue dissociation, in addition to cells exhibiting condensed chromatin and organellar changes, we suggest that only around 14% of the cells initially dissected in the mesencephalic tissue pieces remained healthy after 2 h. There was a peak in calpain activity (specific cleavage of fodrin) immediately following tissue dissociation, and it subsided during the next few hours. Caspase-3 activity was initially low, but increased almost 20-fold 4 h after tissue disruption. Interestingly, extensive degradation of caspase-3 occurred already directly after dissection and was at least partly calpain-dependent. Our data suggest that, in addition to cells undergoing primary necrosis, some cells undergo apoptotic or related changes soon after tissue harvesting, and eventually undergo a secondary necrosis. In summary, embryonic mesencephalic cells exhibit multiple degenerative changes very early on in the neural transplant/tissue culture preparation protocol.


  • Mia Emgård-Mattson
  • K Blomgren
  • Patrik Brundin
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Neurovetenskaper


Sidor (från-till)1177-1187
Utgåva nummer4
StatusPublished - 2002
Peer review utfördJa