, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 235-240

Behavioural effects of human fetal dopamine neurons grafted in a rat model of Parkinson's disease

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The ventral mesencephalon, containing the developing dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra-ventral tegmental region, was obtained from aborted human fetuses of 9–19 weeks of gestation. The tissue was grafted into the striatum of rats previously subjected to a 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of the mesostriatal dopamine pathway. The graft recipients were immunosuppressed by daily injections of Cyclosporin A. Amphetamine-induced motor asymmetry was reduced, and finally totally reversed, only in rats receiving grafts from the 9-week old fetal donor. The fluorescence microscopic analysis revealed large numbers of surviving dopamine neurons, and extensive fiber outgrowth into the host striatum, in these rats. By contrast, rats receiving grafts from 11–19 week old donors had at most only few surviving dopamine neurons. These results indicate that human fetal mesencephalic tissue may be an efficient source of dopamine neurons for functional intracerebral grafting in patients with Parkinson's disease.