Article

Journal of Neurocytology

, Volume 26, Issue 12, pp 811-822

First online:

Human dorsal root ganglion neurons from embryonic donors extend axons into the host rat spinal cord along laminin-rich peripheral surroundings of the dorsal root transitional zone

  • ELENA N. KozlovaAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy, Biomedical Center, Uppsala University
  • , AKE SeigerAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Neuroscience and Family Medicine, Karolinska Institute
  • , HAKAN AldskogiusAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy, Biomedical Center, Uppsala University

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Abstract

Following dorsal root crush, the lesioned axons regenerate in the peripheral compartment of the dorsal root, but stop at the boundary between the peripheral and the central nervous system, the dorsal root transitional zone. We have previously shown that fibres from human fetal dorsal root ganglia grafted to adult rat hosts are able to grow into the spinal cord, but were not able to specify the route taken by the ingrowing fibres. In this study we have challenged the dorsal root transitional zone astrocyte boundary with human dorsal root ganglion transplants from 5–8-week-old embryos. By tracing immunolabelled human fibres in serial sections, we found that fibres consistently grow around the dorsal root transitional zone astrocytes in laminin-rich peripheral surroundings, and extend into the host rat spinal cord along blood vessels, either into deep or superficial laminae of the dorsal horn, or into the dorsal funiculus. Human fibres that did not have access to blood vessels grew on the spinal cord surface. These findings indicate, that in spite of a substantial growth capacity by axons from human embryonic dorsal root ganglion cells as well as their tolerance to non-permissive factors in the mature mammalian CNS, these axons are still sensitive to the repellent effects of astrocytes of the mature dorsal root transitional zone. Furthermore, this axonal ingrowth is consistently associated with laminin-expressing structures until the axons reach the host spinal cord.